Sheep (Barbary)

Ammotragus lervia

IUCN Red List status: Vulnerable

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Where they live

North Africa, from the Atlantic Coast to the Red Sea and south to Mali and Sudan


Hills and mountain ranges


Height 0.9-1.1m at the shoulder, body length 1.3-1.65m, tail length 15cm


30-145kg. Males are much heavier than females



The Barbary sheep is still relatively common over much of its range, but populations are declining because of poaching, habitat destruction (mainly from livestock grazing and fuel wood collection), and from drought and desertification

Did you know...

  • They are the only wild sheep species native to Africa
  • They exude a strong odour from scent glands under the tail

More about Barbary sheep...

Barbary Sheep (or Aoudad) are rock or mountain sheep native to North Africa and parts of the Sudan. They have short, bristly reddish brown coats and both males and females have a heavy fringe of hair on their throats.

Both sexes have powerful horns that have numerous fine rings on them and they curve into a semi-circle over the back.

The colour of their coat helps them to remain camouflaged against the sandy rocks of the North African mountains.

This is especially important as they are too large to hide behind most of the mountain plants and are often hunted by leopards.

Barbary sheep are sometimes be mistaken for goats to which they bear a superficial resemblance but are distinguished from goats by longer tails and mane of long hair on their legs and throat.

They have microscopic suction cups on the bottom of their hoofs which help them climb straight up rock structures.

They are very agile and can achieve a standing jump of more than two metres.The young are able to negotiate the rocky terrain almost immediately after birth.

Barbary sheep are herbivores so their diet consists of lichens, acacia and grass.

These animals usually get water from the foods they eat as water is scarce, but if water is within reach, they will drink.

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