Barbary Sheep

Barbary sheep live in small family herds almost the whole year. Herd usually consist of a male, one or two females and few cubs of different ages. At the end of rain period many small herds combine in one huge group, which rests and searches for food together. The Barbary sheeps are not territorial animals. The Barbary sheep is the only goat-like animal in Africa which lives in the wild. The inhabitants of Africa for centuries have hunted Barbary sheep, they obtained meat, skin, fleece and tendons. As the population of people who live in deserts reduces, the number of Barbary sheep grows larger and larger.

Sheep goes to feed early in the morning and late afternoon, when the temperature of air is quite low. When it’s intensively hot they are hiding in the shadows of rocks. During the rest they take care of their fleece – scratch themselves with horns and nails, rub themselves on rocks and lower branches of trees. They like to wallow in the sand, in that way free themselves from termites. First they wallow to every side to cover themselves with sand, then with nails thrusts wet sand on the back.

The Barbary sheep climbs very skilfully over the cliffs, therefore they can be met in desert’s rocky peaks. If the herd is endangered, sheep will quickly climb from hillside to the top to hide there. In the desert sheep mostly counts on that its fleece colour will melt into the background which will hide them from enemies. Due to very developed senses – smell, sight and hearing – Barbary sheep can reveal the attacker from huge distances.

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Like all mountain sheep, the Barbary sheep is an excellent climber

The Barbary sheep goes searching for food during early morning when the temperature is cool and during late afternoon. Then usually climb down from the hill to the plain. The family always pastures together. The diet mainly consists of grass and low culms of plants. Just like other bovidae the Barbary sheep ruminate the food during the rest.

The Barbary sheep usually gnaws trees and bushes. Also they can ramp to reach the leaves, branches and juicy, fresh sprouts. The Barbary sheep drinks water from puddles in hollows of cliffs or uses the liquid which is a part of food.

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Barbary Sheeps resting during the hot time of the day

The mating period for Barbary sheep is from October to November. The male finds the female and walks with her for a few days till she is ready for copulation. Pregnancy lasts for 150-165 days. The female gives birth to one or two cubs (it’s very rarely if there is three cubs), which weigh about 1.5-3 kg. The first two or three days the female remains together with the cub(s) in solitude and only later on she joins back to the herd. Cub nurses mother’s milk for three or four months, but they reach puberty at the age of 1-1.5.

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