The Barbary sheep (Ammotragus lervia), also known as aoudad (pronounced [ˈɑʊdæd]) is a
caprine native to rocky mountains in
North Africa. While this is the
only species in genus Ammotragus, six
subspecies have been described. Although it is rare in its native North Africa, it has been
North America, southern
Europe, and elsewhere. It is also known in the
Berber language as waddan or arwi, and in former French territories as the moufflon.
Barbary sheep stand 75 to 110 cm (2.46 to 3.61 ft) tall at the shoulder, with a length around 1.5 m (4 ft 11 in), and weigh 30 to 145 kg (66 to 320 lb)
. They are sandy-brown, darkening with age, with a slightly lighter underbelly and a darker line along the back. Upper parts and the outer parts of the legs are a uniform reddish- or grayish-brown. Some shaggy hair is on the
throat (extending down to the chest in males) with a sparse
horns have a
triangularcross-section. The horns curve outward, backward, then inward, and can exceed 76 cm (30 in) in length. The horns are fairly smooth, with slight wrinkles evident at the base as the animal matures.
A. l. ornata I. Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, 1827 (Egyptian Barbary sheep, thought to be extinct in the wild but still found in the eastern desert of Egypt)
A. l. sahariensis Rothschild, 1913 (vulnerable)
A. l. blainei Rothschild, 1913 (vulnerable)
A. l. angusi Rothschild, 1921 (vulnerable)
A. l. fassini Lepri, 1930 (vulnerable)
Barbary sheep are found in
arid mountainous areas where they
lichens. They are able to obtain all their
metabolic water from food, but if liquid water is available, they drink and wallow in it. Barbary sheep are
crepuscular - active in the early morning and late afternoon and rest in the heat of the day. They are very agile and can achieve a standing jump over 2 metres (7 ft). They are well adapted to their habitat, which consist of steep, rocky mountains and canyons. They often flee at the first sign of danger, typically running uphill. They are extremely nomadic and travel constantly via mountain ranges. Their main
predators in North Africa were the
Barbary leopard, the
Barbary lion, and
caracal, but now humans, feral dogs, competition due to overgrazing by domestic animals and drought threaten their populations.
binomial nameAmmotragus lervia derives from the
Greek ἄμμος ámmos ("sand", referring to the sand-coloured coat) and τράγος trágos ("goat").
Lervia derives from the wild sheep of northern Africa described as "lerwee" by Rev. T. Shaw in his "Travels and Observations" about parts of
Spanish named this sheep the arruis, from Berber arrwis, and the
Spanish Legion even used it as a mascot for a time.
Aoudad ([ˈɑː.uːdæd]) is the name for this sheep used by the
Berbers, a North African people, and it is also called arui and waddan (in
Barbary sheep seeks handouts at a Texas wildlife park
^Acevedo, Pelayo; Cassinello, Jorge; Hortal, Joaquín; Gortázar, Christian (1 June 2007). "Invasive exotic aoudad (Ammotragus lervia) as a major threat to native Iberian ibex (Capra pyrenaica): a habitat suitability model approach". Diversity and Distributions. 13 (5): 587–597.
^Cassinello, J.; Serrano, E.; Calabuig, G. & Pérez, J.M. (2004). Range expansion of an exotic ungulate (Ammotragus lervia) in southern Spain: ecological and conservation concerns. Biodiversity and Conservation13: 851-866
^Nogales, M.; Rodriguez-Luengo, J. L.; Marerro, P. (January 2006). "Ecological effects and distribution of invasive non-native mammals on the Canary Islands". Mammal Review. 36 (1): 49–65.
^Hackländer, K.; Zachos, F. E. (2020). Handbook of the Mammals of Europe. Springer, Cham.
^Wacher, T., El Din, S. B., Mikhail, G., & El Din, M. B. (2002). New observations of the ‘extinct’ Barbary sheep Ammotragus lervia ornata in Egypt. Oryx, 36(3), 301-304.
^Manlius, N., Menardi-Noguera, A. and Zboray, A. 2003. Decline of the Barbary sheep (Ammotragus lervia) in Egypt during the 20th century: literature review and recent observations. Journal of Zoology (London) 259: 403-409.