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MONGOLIAN ARGALI WILD SHEEP


Altai Argali inhabiting the high Altai mountain region of western and south-western Mongolia is one of two sub-species of Argali-wild sheep. Argali stands 85 to 135 cm (3 to 4 ft) high at the shoulder and measures 136 to 200 cm (4 to 7 ft) long from the head to the base of the tail. The female or ewe is the smaller sex by a considerable margin, sometimes weighing less than half as much as the male, or ram. The ewes can weigh from 43.2 to 100 kg (95 to 220 lb) and the rams typically from 97 to 328 kg (214 to 723 lb), with a maximum reported mass of 356 kg (785 lb). The Pamir argali (also called Marco Polo sheep, for they were first described by that traveler), is the largest race on average, regularly measuring more than 180 cm (5 ft 11 in) long without the tail, and is less sexually dimorphic in body mass than most other subspecies. The argali has relatively the shortest tail of any wild goat-antelope or sheep, with reported tail lengths of 9.5–17 cm (3.7–6.7 in).


Argalis live in herds typically numbering between two and 150 animals, segregated by sex, except during breeding season. Most populations show large numbers of adult females, constituting more than half of a local population, against around 20% adult males and a further 20% young argali. Some rams are solitary, but most are seen in small herds numbering between three and 30 individuals. Females and their young live in larger groups, regularly up to 92 individuals and exceptionally to 200 animals.


According to the inventory conducted in 2010, there were 19,700 individual Argali was recorded. The main cause of population decrease is the harsh natural conditions of subsequently happened droughts and dzud, heavy snowfalls. Moreover, illegal hunting and attacks by big predators e.g. snow leopard, wolf, and lynx impact on the decrease of adult individuals, but attacks by the species e.g. red fox and golden eagle impact on the decrease of the baby young individuals (lambs).

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