Ghosts of the canyonlands

Aoudad or Barbary sheep are exotic species introduced ca 1950 by several wildlife departments in an attempt to provide more opportunities for big game hunting.  At that time, numbers of white-tailed and mule deer were so low that some states considered them extirpated! Native to north Africa, Aoudad do well in west Texas and New Mexico.  Their ability to climb, hide under overhangs and in caves, and coat color make these mammals real ghosts of the canyon lands of the Texas Panhandle and beyond.

Basic Facts of the Aoudad…..

Aoudad (Ammotragus lervia):

  • •Endemic to North Africa
  • •Intro to US through the zoo trade in the 1900s
  • •Low breeding success in captivity prompting private ownership
  • •Wild populations were est. through of private ownership (i.e. released)
  • •One of the largest wild populations of Aoudad can be found in PDCSP.
  • •Use of helicopters for population counts have yielded most accurate accounts.
  • •Recognized in US as important game species
  • •In North Africa, Aoudad harvested for hide, meat and horns.
  • •Habitat
  • • Inhabits semiarid and arid lands
  • • Recorded in SW United State at elevation levels of over 1800 m
  • • Food
  • • Browsers:  woody vegetation and grasses. (Large consumption of grasses recorded during winter months)
  • • True Horns
  • • Reproduction
  • • Autumn rut: Sept – Nov. Year around mating have been recorded.
  • • Gestation period of 22-23 weeks
  • • Twins have been produced in captivity.

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