Tuesday, July 23, 2024


The sand gazelle (Gazella subgutturosa marica )

The sand gazelle (Gazella subgutturosa marica ) (Reem) is the second largest of the antelopes that occur in Iraq, Jordan, Syria, Sinai, and the Arabian Peninsula and in some other north African countries. It weighs up to 22 kgs. The elegantly curved horns of both males and females are considerably longer than those of other gazelles occurring in the area. The animals are very light in colour, the head completely white in older animals, with back and flanks being light beige backs are sand colored, bellies and backs of legs are all white, tails are black and have a long snout. The belly is white and there is no darker stripe between the white underside and the beige flanks and back of the gazelle. Contrasting with the overall pale body, are the black eyes, nostril and mouth. Their colouring is obviously an adaptation to the habitat they favour, which is the open sands. They are absent from the mountains. The sand gazelle is not the only antelope in Arabia ( there are other species in Arabia). Females regularly give birth to twins, and this usually in spring and autumn. The young spend their first days in shallow scrapes, or under a small bush, until they are strong enough to move with the adults.

Currently, they are still located in mainly all of the same places but now, because of its being endangered, the population is widely spread throughout the regions.

How Many Left? Currently there is no data available as to the actual number of gazelles in the wild, but in the year that the gazelle was declared endangered, 1979, there were 37,126 known to have been alive. Males horns range from 25 to 30 cm in length. Horns of the females tend to be shorter and thinner. Horns on males and females are arched backwards and are parallel.

-The males of the species are territorial.
-They can hold a steady pace of 30 mph, and have been known to reach speeds of up to 60 mph.
-They are very good jumpers.
-They live in large numbers and for the most part they live in dry country. It is normally found in the



The Arabian mountain gazelle (Gazella gazella cora ) is smaller than the sand gezelle.It occur in the eastern part of Iraq, and in some other Arabian countries. It weighs less than the sand gazelle .Males only have horns, and they are smaller than those of sand gazelle occurring in the area. The animals are light beige colour, with black flanks. The belly is white and there is a darker stripe between the white underside and the beige flanks and back of the gazelle. Contrasting with the overall pale body, are the black eyes, nostril and mouth. They are occur at the mountains of (PESHTAKU). Females regularly give birth once a year, and throughout the year.

ARABIAN TAHR (hemitragus jayakari )

Arabian tahr (Hemitragus jayakari) have long reddish-brown hair, with a dark stripe down their back and short, goat-like, stubby horns. Older males sport a beard, which is absent in the younger animals. The calves are grey in colour at birth, changing to greyish-brown around the same time when the horns start to grow. In contrast to the mountain gazelle the Arabian tahr needs to drink water every day.

An agile climber, this animal is found only in the mountains, where it dwells on steep cliffs, feeding on the sparse grass and shrubs growing amongst the rocks. They descend regularly into the valleys to find a pool from which to drink.

The tahr's existence on top of Jebel Hafit near Al Ain had been mentioned by Wilfred Thesiger some 45 years ago. After a last carcass of a tahr was found near a water pool on this mountain in 1982 and no further evidence of this secretive animal came to light from either Jebel Hafit or any of the other mountains, it was generally thought that the tahr was extinct outside the Sultanate of Oman.

However, reports received from local people living in the mountains indicated that an animal different from a gazelle was being seen from time to time in various areas in the northern Emirates. Then, in 1995, during a survey conducted by T. and C. Stuart on behalf of the Arabian Leopard Trust a female tahr, together with her kid, was photographed when both animals descended to drink at one of the water pools! No doubt the Arabian leopard was the tahr's natural enemy, but today it is the destruction of their natural habitat by feral goats, as well as poaching, that keep their numbers dangerously low.

In Iraq, Arabian tahr is called “Waa’l”.
Like the “bighorn” and the “Ibex” Arabian tahr is found in the eastern region on the Iraq-Iran boarders and on the mountains of Sulaymaniya.
The endemic Arabian Tahr, Hemitragus jayakari, is endangered and may well become extinct in the United Arab Emirates in the near future. In May 2000 specimens were again spotted on Jebel Hafit and in the Shumayliyah Mountains. Attempts are now being made to determine how many animals still exist in the UAE as an accurate estimate has never been made. Though these animals are high in number in Oman, it seems that in the Northern edges of their range the number of individuals decreases significantly. The exact reasons for this are unknown. However, competition for grazing and hunting pressure are restricting the growth in population. These two issues are the most pertinent, if there is any hope of saving the Tahr in the UAE.



The natural range of bighorn is in the Northern and Eastern mountains of Iraq.

The Bighorn's body is compact and muscular; the muzzle, narrow and pointed; the ears, short and pointed; the tail, very short. The fur is gazelle like and usually a shade of brown with whitish rump patches. The fur is smooth and composed of an outer coat of brittle guard hairs and short, gray, crimped fleece underfur.The summer coat is a rich, glossy brown but it becomes quite faded by late winter The male sheep is called a ram and can be recognized by his massive brown horns. The horns curl back over the ears, downs and up past the cheeks. By the time a ram reaches 7 or 8 years of age, he can have a set of horns with a full curl and a spread of up to 33 inches.
Ewes, the females, are smaller than the rams and have shorter, smaller horns that never exceed half a curl.

Bighorn have extremely acute eyesight, which aids in jumping and gaining narrow mountain footholds. They often watch other animals moving at distances of up to a mile away. It's tail is very short, ears are short and pointed. The Bighorn's muzzle is narrow and pointed.

The cloven hooves are sharp-edged, elastic, and concave. Double-lobed,3-3.5 inches long with fore-prints slightly larger than hind-prints, somewhat similar to deer prints but less splayed.

Bighorn sheep are gregarious, sometimes forming herds of over 100 individuals, but small groups of 8-10 are more common.Mature males usually stay apart from females and young for most of the year in separate bachelor herds. They usually migrate seasonally, using larger upland areas in the summer and concentrating in sheltered valleys during the winter.


Males do not defend territories but rather engage in battles over mating access to a particular female. Age as well as horn determines male dominance status. Although not as well built for climbing as mountain goats, Bighorn Sheep zigzag up and down cliff faces with amazing ease. They use ledges only 2 inches wide for footholds, and bounce from ledge to ledge over spans as wide as 20 feet.They can move over level ground at 48 km per hour and scramble up mountain slopes at 24 km per hour. They also swim freely, despite their massive bulk and weight of their horns.

Bighorns are generally active during the day, feeding morning, noon and evening, then lying down to chew their cud. They retire to their bedding areas for the night, which may be used for many years.


Bighorn inhabits grassy mountain slopes and foothill country near rugged, rocky cliffs and bluffs, allowing for quick escape.In winter, Bighorn prefer lower slopes, because they cannot paw through deep snow to feed. Their summer range is higher in elevation.


Bighorns are primarily grazers, consuming grasses, sedges, and forbs, but it will take some browse when preferred food is scarce (especially in winter). During summer they get most of their moisture from the vegetation, although they still visit water holes every several days. When summer temperatures become extreme and water sources dry up completely, Bighorns rest most of the daylight hours and feed at night. During this season, they rely on certain plants for both food and moisture.


Rutting season is in the autumn and early winter, and births take place in the spring. Mating for the bighorn, however, can last from July to December. Gestation lasts from 5 - 6 months. One or two lambs are born near steep cliffs from late February to May. Within a few weeks of birth, lambs form bands of their own, seeking out their mothers only to suckle occasionally. They are completely weaned by 4-6 months of age.
Only about one-third will survive their first summer. A lamb born late in the season stands little chance of survival, since temperatures reach over 40 degrees in May and often reach 45 by June.

Female Bighorn usually do not breed until their second or third year in the wild. Due to competition, males do not usually mate until they are 7 years old. Most sheep live over 10 years, with a maximum of 20 years.Ewes are protective of their young for many months. Yearlings, often abandoned while the ewe is giving birth to her next lamb, may be seen again with the ewe and lamb late in the spring. Bighorn find safety in numbers and are ever watchful for predators such as wolves and panthers.
Human activities are responsible for the Bighorn's decline and pushing population to the edge of extinction.

Nubian Ibex


Body Length: 105-125 cm / 3.5-4.1 ft.
Shoulder Height: 65-75 cm / 2.1-2.5 ft.
Tail Length: 15-20 cm / 6-8 in.
Weight: 25-70 kg / 55-154 lb.
The Nubian ibex is relatively small compared to other ibexes. Its coat is a light sandy brown in colour with the hindquarters lighter. The underparts are almost white, and the upper side of the tail is darker. Bucks have a dark stripe on their front legs and one down their back, as well as a dark beard. During the October rut, the neck, chest, shoulders, upper legs, and sides of bucks become dark brown to almost black in colour. The semicircular horns curve upward, backwards, and finally down. While they are found in both sexes, but are much larger in males than females. Horns on bucks grow up to 120 cm / 48 inches long, and have 24-36 knobs on the outer curve. The much thinner, shorter horns of females grow up to 35 cm / 14 inches.


Gestation Period: 5 months.
Young per Birth: 1-2
Mating occurs during the late summer months, especially October. The majority of kids are born in March.
Life Cycle
Weaning: After 3 months.
Sexual Maturity: At 2-3 years.
Life span: Up to 17 years.
In contrast to most desert animals, the Nubian ibex drinks almost daily. The light, smooth, shiny coat is thought to reflect a large amount of incoming solar radiation, which allows the animals to remain active throughout the day, even during hot summer afternoons. During summer nights, the Nubian ibex rests in high, open areas of slopes, allowing a variety of escape routes should danger present itself. During the cooler winter nights, herds rest in more sheltered places, like caves or under overhangs. Nubian ibex, although equipped with a semi-waterproof coat, do not like to get wet, seeking shelter if possible during rain storms.
Family group: Single sex herds, with kids staying with their maternal herd until the age of three years.
Diet: Grasses, leaves.
Main Predators: Leopard, bearded vulture, eagle.
The Nubian ibex is classified as endangered by the IUCN (1996), with an estimated population of 1200 animals in 1986.
Rocky, desert mountains with steep slopes in northeastern Africa and parts of Arabia