- Red Goral
Red Goral Conservation status Scientific classification Kingdom: Animalia Phylum: Chordata Class: Mammalia Order: Artiodactyla Family: Bovidae Genus: Naemorhedus Species: N. baileyi Binomial name Naemorhedus baileyi
The Red Goral (Naemorhedus baileyi) is a species of even-toed ungulate in the Bovidae family. It is found in China, India, and Myanmar. Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical dry forests and subtropical or tropical dry lowland grassland. It is threatened by habitat loss.
The red goral is a bright foxy-red animal with long, soft, shaggy hair. A thin dark stripe runs along the spine from the head to the tip of the tail. The legs are the same rich red as the body, while the undersides are a lighter buff color. The black-colored tail is very short for a goral, but a long tuft of dark hair at the end may double its apparent length.
The red goral is easily distinguished from other members of the genus Naemorhedus by its reddish coat - all other gorals are greyish-brown with grizzled hairs. The red goral is also the smallest goral, and has a greater curvature to its horns. Both males and females have a pair of short, arcing horns. The horns of males tend to be longer and thicker than those of females, but lengths of 7.5–16 cm are typical for both sexes.
Red goral are most active during the day, and tend to retreat to inaccessible cliffs at night, where they sleep on sheltered ledges. They are strong climbers and jumpers, and seek safety from predators by fleeing up cliffs. They can clear obstacles over 1.8 meters high from a standing start. Although generally quiet, males make a call which sounds like "zer - zer" during the breeding season; female red goral also whistle as males approach. Red goral typically inhabit a home range of around 40 hectares. Males are territorial during the breeding season. Their diet consists of lichens, grasses, stems, and leaves.
Fewer than 10,000 red goral are believed to survive today. The actual number may be quite less: fewer than 1,500 red goral were thought to live in China - the largest part of the species' range - in 1998. However, in Mishmi Hills, Arunachal Pradesh in northeastern India, it is among the relatively more abundant ungulates.
Their range is centered around the region where the border of China, India, and Myanmar meet.
The red goral is a geographically-isolated form of goral, and the smallest of the presently recognized species (Hayman, 1961; Rabinowitz, 1999). Body weights range from 20–30 kg, while the length of the head and body is approximately 100 cm. Records of captive animals show that females tend to be slightly larger than males, although there is otherwise very little difference between the sexes (Zhang, 1987).
The genus Naemorhedus is derived from the Latin words nemus (genitive nemoris), meaning "forest", and haedus, meaning a young goat.
This species is named after Lieutenant-Colonel F. M. Bailey, who explorer the "frontier region" extensively prior to the first World War. While he collected the brown type specimen for N. b. baileyi, he also made note of bright red goral-skin coats made by locals in the Mishmi Hills (see Hayman, 1961). The first "red" specimen was collected by the Earl of Cranbrook in upper Burma along with Captain F. Kingdon Ward in 1931. Although an unusual specimen, no formal description or name was given to this new red goral until 1961.
N. baileyi is primarily diurnal, with most activity occurring in the early morning and evening (Sheng Helin et al., 1999). During the day, red goral graze on sunny slopes, retreating to rocky cliffs at night where they bed down on sheltered ledges (Zhang, 1987; Sheng Helin et al., 1999). As with most members of the Caprinae, red goral are very agile and move with easy speed amongst rough terrain (Hla Aung, 1967; Zhang, 1987). A captive female in Rangoon Zoo was observed jumping over a 1.8 meter high fence from a standing start (Hla Aung, 1967). This species retreats up cliffs when threatened (Zhang, 1987).
Red goral are primarily solitary, although females tend to be accompanied by their latest youngster (Zhang, 1987; Sheng Helin et al., 1999). N. baileyi is occasionally seen in small groups, typically with three animals. The composition of these groups is usually a male along with a female and her offspring, or a female with her offspring from the previous two years (Zhang, 1987).
The behavior of this species during the breeding season (September to November) is presented by Xie (2006). During the rut, males will follow females closely, being in frequent naso-genital contact (often accompanied by smelling and licking) in order to determine the onset of estrus. Non-receptive females will either flee from the advances of males or threaten them by butting the body of the male with their head. Receptive females tend to stand still as the male approaches, signalling their estrus by raising the tail. Flehmen (lip curl) was observed during the majority of encounters between a male and a receptive female.
This species is listed on Appendix I of CITES (2009). The world population of this species is estimated to be less than 10,000 animals, and is likely considerably less (Duckworth and MacKinnon, 2008). From data collected in 1987 and 1988, the Tibetan population of this species was estimated to number between 810 and 1,370 animals (see Wang Sung et al., 1997). Numbers in India and Myanmar are unknown, but due to the restricted range of this species they are unlikely to be common (Duckworth and MacKinnon, 2008). Hunting is a major threat to the continued survival of this species; Rabinowitz (1999) reports that it is the most heavily-harvested ungulate in its range. Habitat loss - due to forestry practices and clearing for agriculture - also poses a major threat (Wang Sung et al., 1997; Duckworth and MacKinnon, 2008). Red goral inhabit several protected regions, including Hkakabo-Razi National Park in Myanmar, and Gangxiang, Muotuo, Xiaca, and Medoq in Tibet (Rabinowitz, 1999; Wang Sung et al., 1997). There is a small captive breeding group in the Shanghai Zoo (Wang Sung et al., 1997).
- ^ Duckworth, J.W. & MacKinnon, J. (2008). Naemorhedus baileyi. In: IUCN 2008. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Downloaded on 5 April 2009. Database entry includes a brief justification of why this species is of vulnerable.
- ^ Choudhury, A.U. (2010) Mammals and birds of Dihang – Dibang Biosphere Reserve, North-east India. Lambert Academic Publishing, Saarbrücken, Germany. 104pp.
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