Armenian mouflon

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Armenian mouflon
In Zakrya Al Dhabi National Park, Iran (CFF Iranian reservation)
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Artiodactyla
Family: Bovidae
Subfamily: Caprinae
Genus: Ovis
O. g. gmelini
Trinomial name
Ovis gmelini gmelini
Blyth, 1841

Ovis orientalis gmelinii
Ovis gmelini
Ovis ammon orientalis
Ovis ophion armeniana Nasonov, 1919

The Armenian mouflon[1] (Ovis gmelini gmelini) is an endangered subspecies of mouflon endemic to Iran, Armenia, and Nakhchivan (Azerbaijan).[2]


The Armenian mouflon was first described in 1840 by Edward Blyth, who equated it with the "Orientalische Schaaf" (Oriental sheep) described by Samuel Gottlieb Gmelin in 1774.[3][4][5]

It is known as the Armenian mouflon in both (Armenian: հայկական մուֆլոն, haykakan muflon and Persian: گوسفند وحشی ارمنی‎, Qutch-e armani).[6] Alternative names include Armenian sheep,[2] Armenian wild sheep,[7][8] Armenian red sheep,[9] and Trans-Caucasian sheep.[10]

Distribution and population[edit]

O. g. gmelini is found in northwestern Iran. Armenian mouflons were transferred to Kabudan Island in Lake Urmia in 1895 and 1906 by one of the governors of Azerbaijan.[11] A study carried out in the 1970s at the island found that their number declined from around 3,500 in 1970 to 1,000 in 1973.[7] In 2004 1,658 Armenian wild sheep were counted at the Angouran Protected Area in Iran's Zanjan Province.[12]

O. g. gmelini is found in Syunik Province in southern Armenia (and to a lesser extent, in the provinces of Ararat and Vayots Dzor).[13][14] According to a 2009 study there were "hardly over 200" mouflons in Armenia.[15]

An estimated 250 to 300 mouflons are found in the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic of Azerbaijan.[16]


O. o. gmelini on a 2012 Armenian stamp

The Armenian mouflon lives mostly in open rough terrain at medium or high altitudes, where they inhabit rocky hill country, lowland and highland steppes, rocky semideserts, grass-covered slopes, and alpine meadows. They spend the summer at the highest elevations, right below the permanent snow. In winter, they move lower and may come into the valleys. They live in small or large herds, and in the summer, the older males live singly or in separate groups. They may live up to 18 years.

Protection measures[edit]

O. g. gmelini was listed in Category I of the USSR Red Data Book. In Armenia, hunting it has been forbidden since 1936. A captive-breeding program has been initiated at the Zoological Institute of Armenia aiming to expand Khosrov Nature Reserve, reorganize the Orbubad Sanctuary into a state reserve, control livestock, and reduce poaching.[2] As of 2011, the fine for hunting the Armenian mouflon in Armenia was 3 million drams (roughly $8,000).[17]

In Iran, hunting of O. g. gmelini is allowed only under permit, outside the protected areas, between September and February. Within the protected areas, grazing of domestic livestock is strictly controlled.[2]


  1. ^ a b Crabtree, Pam J.; Ryan, Kathleen; Campana, Douglas V., eds. (1989). Early Animal Domestication and Its Cultural Context. UPenn Museum of Archaeology. p. 28.
  2. ^ a b c d Valdez, R. (2008) Ovis orientalis The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species
  3. ^ Blyth, Edward (1840). "An Amended List of the Species of the genus Ovis". Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London. 8 (1): 62–81. doi:10.1111/j.1469-7998.1840.tb00692.x. Transcription of Blyth's presentation to a session of the Zoological Society of London chaired by Professor Owen. Alternate copy at BHL (no subscription required); description of "O. Gmelinii" begins on p. 69.
  4. ^ Gmelin, Samuel Gottlieb (1774). Reise durch Russland zur Untersuchung der drey Natur-Reiche (in German). III. St. Petersburg, Russia: Akademie der Wissenschaften. pp. 486–487. Retrieved 8 January 2015.
  5. ^ Danford, Charles G.; Alston, Edward R. (1880). "On the Mammals of Asia Minor.—Part II". Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London. 48 (1): 50–64. doi:10.1111/j.1096-3642.1880.tb02724.x.
  6. ^ Firouz, Eskandar (2005). The Complete Fauna of Iran. I.B. Tauris. p. 89.
  7. ^ a b Valdez, Paul; Alamia, Leticia V. (1977). "Population decline of an insular population of Armenian wild sheep in Iran". Journal of Wildlife Management. 41 (4): 720–725. doi:10.2307/3799995. JSTOR 3799995.
  8. ^ Lydekker, Richard (1907). "The name of the Armenian wild sheep". The Annals and Magazine of Natural History: Including Zoology, Botany, and Geology. 7. 20 (116): 121–122. doi:10.1080/00222930709487314 – via Google Books.
  9. ^ Mungall, Elizabeth Cary (2007). Exotic Animal Field Guide: Nonnative Hoofed Mammals in the United States. Texas A&M University Press. p. 213. ISBN 978-1-58544-555-4.
  10. ^ Heptner, V.G.; Nasimovich, A.A.; Bannikov, A.G. (1988). Mammals of the Soviet Union. I. Washington, D.C., US: Smithsonian Institution Libraries and National Science Foundation. pp. 881–954 (Section 21: Mountain Sheep, Arkhar). Retrieved 9 January 2015. English translation of the Russian-language Mlekopitaiushchie Sovetskogo Soiuza (1961) by the Smithsonian Institution's Translation Publishing Program.
  11. ^ Asem, Alireza; Eimanifar, Amin; Djamali, Morteza; De los Rios, Patricio; Wink, Michael (2014). "Biodiversity of the Hypersaline Urmia Lake National Park (NW Iran)". Diversity. 6 (1): 102–132. doi:10.3390/d6010102.
  12. ^ Karami, M.; Habibzadeh, N. (2006). "Population Dynamics of Armenian Wild Sheep (Ovis Orientalis Gmelini) in the Angouran Protected Area of Zanjan Province". Iranian Journal of Natural Resources. 59 (2): 487–500.
  13. ^ Malkhasyan, A. "Armenian mouflon - Ovis orientalis gmelinii (Blyth, 1841)". Red Book of Armenia. Ministry of Nature Protection of the Republic of Armenia.
  14. ^ "Կենդական Աշխարհ [Fauna (literally Animal World)]", Հայաստանի Ազգային Ատլաս [Armenian National Atlas] (in Armenian), I, Yerevan, Armenia: "Geodeziayi ev Kʻartezagrutʻyan Kentron" POAK, 2007, p. 81, ISBN 978-99941-0-176-4
  15. ^ Khorozyan, Igor G.; Weinberg, Pavel I.; Malkhasyan, Alexander G. (2009). "Conservation Strategy for Armenian Mouflon (Ovis [orientalis] gmelini Blyth) and Bezoar Goat (Capra aegagrus Erxleben) in Armenia". In Zazanashvili, Nugzar; Mallon, David (eds.). Status and Protection of Globally Threatened Species in the Caucasus. Tbilisi: CEPF, WWF. Contour Ltd. pp. 37–45. ISBN 978-9941-0-2203-6.
  16. ^ Talibov, Tariel H.; Weinberg, Pavel I.; Mammadov, Ismayil B.; Mammadov, Etibar N.; Talibov, Sabuhi T. (2009). "Conservation Strategy of the Asiatic Mouflon (Ovis [orientalis] gmelini Blyth) and the Bezoar Goat (Capra aegagrus Erxleben) in Azerbaijan". In Zazanashvili, Nugzar; Mallon, David (eds.). Status and Protection of Globally Threatened Species in the Caucasus. Tbilisi: CEPF, WWF. Contour Ltd. pp. 46–52. ISBN 978-9941-0-2203-6.
  17. ^ Gevorgyan, Siranuysh (14 September 2011). "Easy Game: Armenian conservationists alarmed by continued poaching of Red Book species". ArmeniaNow.

Further reading[edit]