Animal Info - Dwarf Blue Sheep
(Other Names: Bharal, Dwarf Bharal, Shí Yáng ("stone sheep"),
Yá Yáng ("cliff sheep"))
Pseudois schaeferi (P. nayaur s.)
1. Profile (Picture)
3. Status and Trends (IUCN Status,
Currently Found, Population Estimates, History of Distribution, Threats and Reasons
4. Data on Biology and Ecology (Weight, Habitat, Age to Maturity, Gestation
Period, Birth Season, Birth Rate, Early Development, Diet, Behavior,
Social Organization, Age and
Distribution, Density and Range)
Blue Sheep #1 (26 Kb JPEG) (Grd
Slm Club - Ovis), Dwarf Blue Sheep #2 (Kb) (), Dwarf
Blue Sheep #3 (40 Kb JPEG) (Univ.
The dwarf blue
sheep generally weighs 25 - 44 kg (55 - 97 lb). It occurs on very
steep rocky slopes, usually at an altitude of 2700 - 2900 m (8900 - 9500') in dry valleys
with a sparse cover of grasses and low shrubs. Its diet consists mainly of grasses
and other plants such as clubmoss. Blue sheep feed and rest alternately throughout
the day on steep, grassy slopes. Groups of dwarf blue sheep currently average about 6
animals, down from 10 - 36 reported by local hunters to occur previously.
The dwarf blue sheep currently is only found in China
in a narrow area in the upper reaches of the Changjiang (Yangtze River) watershed in Sichuan Province. It has declined
significantly since the 1950's because of overhunting. This continues to be its
major threat, as well as some habitat loss.
*** The dwarf blue sheep is one of the world's
*** Morphologically, blue sheep, or
"bharal," is midway between a sheep and a goat.
*** There are two species of blue sheep: the dwarf blue sheep, Pseudois schaeferi
and the blue sheep, Pseudois nayaur. The head and upper parts of the blue sheep are brownish gray with a tinge of slaty
blue, and the underparts and insides of the legs are white. This coloration blends
well with the blue shale, rocks and brown grasses of the open hillsides. The dwarf
blue sheep has a drabber coloration with a silvery sheen. (Nowak 1999)
*** The dwarf blue sheep was recognized by some as a subspecies of the blue sheep in
1963 and as a separate species in 1978. However, the taxonomic status of the dwarf blue sheep is still
uncertain (Wang et al. 2000).
*** The dwarf blue sheep receives protection from local people in some
parts of Sichuan Province because of their religious beliefs. (Shackleton 1997)
Status and Trends
Countries Where the Dwarf Blue Sheep Is Currently Found:
2004: Occurs in China (IUCN
[Note: Figures given are for wild populations only.]
History of Distribution:
The dwarf blue sheep was first recorded by scientists in 1937. Currently it is
only found in China in a narrow area along the
Jingshajiang ("Golden Sand River") valley, in the upper reaches of the
Changjiang (Yangtze River) watershed. It
occurs in Batang County (Sichuan Province), principally between the villages of Suwalong
and Zhubalong, 40 km southwest of the town of Batang; and in a very small area of Muking
County on the other side of the river in the Tibet Autonomous Region (Wang et al. 2000).
Map (10 Kb GIF) (Huffman 2006)
Threats and Reasons for Decline:
The dwarf blue sheep has declined significantly since the 1950's because of
overhunting. This continues to be its major threat, as well as some habitat loss. (Wang et al. 2000)
Of all the wild sheep and goats in China, the
dwarf blue sheep is probably the most endangered. There is no formal legislation for
the dwarf blue sheep's protection in China, because
when the national protection list was established, it was not considered to be a separate
species. (Shackleton 1997)
Data on Biology and Ecology
The weight of male dwarf blue sheep has variously been reported as 28 - 39 kg (62 - 86
lb) and as 34 - 44 kg (75 - 97 lb) with a maximum of 65 kg 143 lb). The weight of
females has been reported as 25 - 35 kg (55 - 77 lb). (Wang et al. 2000)
The dwarf blue sheep is currently found on very steep rocky slopes (70 - 80 deg slope)
at 2700 - 2900 m (8900 - 9500'). At this elevation, the valleys are dry with a
sparse cover of grasses, low shrubs and clubmoss... Local hunters commented that it can
also be seen between 2900 and 3200 m (9500 - 10,000') below the forest zone but that it is
not present in oak forests. The blue sheep Pseudois nayaur occurred on the
same mountain range above 3200 m (10,000') up to the alpine meadows. (Wang et al. 2000)
The dwarf blue sheep is one of the species that live in the Mountains
of Southwest China Biodiversity
Age to Maturity:
Sexual maturity is reached at 1.5 years of age, although it is unlikely that males are
able to mate under natural conditions before reaching trophy size at 7 years of age.
Young of dwarf blue sheep are born in May or June.
Usually 1 young is born at a time.
A young blue sheep is weaned at about 6 months.
The diet of blue sheep consists mainly of grasses and other plants such as clubmoss.
Blue sheep feed and rest alternately throughout the day on the grassy slopes of
Among 142 sheep observed, the average group size was 6.2 ± 0.8 SE (range 2 - 15).
Three categories of groups were recognized: all-male, maternal (females and young) and
mixed (males and females with or without young). (Wang
et al. 2000)
Local hunters reported that previously observed group size ranges of 10 - 36 had
dropped to 3 - 8 animals in the 1990's. (Shackleton
Age and Gender Distribution:
Among 63 sheep (out of 142 observed) whose gender was identified, the male:female ratio
was 67.7:100 and the ratio of young to females (adult and yearling) was 35.5:100 (Wang et al. 2000).
Density and Range:
Density: "...only 0.5 - 1.0 sheep/sq km" (1.3 - 2.6 sheep/sq mi) (Shackleton 1997).
Intl., Grd Slm Club - Ovis,
Huffman 2006, IUCN 1994, IUCN
1996, IUCN 2000, IUCN
2004, Nowak 1999, Nowak
& Paradiso 1983, Shackleton 1997, Tan 1996, Univ.
Wash., Wang et al.
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Last modified: February 28;