Naemorhedus caudatusChinese goral

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Geographic Range

Naemorhedus caudatus is found in the mountain ranges of eastern and northern Asia, including eastern Russia, northeastern China, and Korea. In Russia, it is found in the southern portions of the Sikhote-Alin and Bureya mountain ranges and along many of the major rivers, such as the Khor, Kafen, Chuken, and Sukpay. In China, it is mainly found in the northeast part of the country, especially the Xiao Hinggan Ling mountains, as well as the Changbaishan range which is close to the border shared with North Korea. In Korea it is thought to be found in the Hamgyong and Taebaek mountains, although distributions there are not well known. (Duckworth, et al., 2008)

Habitat

Chinese, or long-tailed gorals prefer steep, mountainous habitat and are usually found in rocky terrain with evergreen and deciduous forests. They are also sometimes found on exposed grassy ridges. (Duckworth, et al., 2008)

  • Range elevation
    500 to 3,500 m
    1640.42 to ft

Physical Description

Chinese gorals are small goat relatives, ranging in size from 22 to 32 kg, and standing 55 to 80 cm at the shoulder. They are agile over the rocky crags and cliffs they inhabit. Other distinguishing characteristics include backward-curving, cylindrical, and sharply pointed horns and a brownish gray to bright red coat. There is minimal sexual dimorphism, although males being slightly larger than females. (Duckworth, et al., 2008)

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • male larger
  • Range mass
    22 to 32 kg
    48.46 to 70.48 lb

Reproduction

There is little information on mating systems in Chinese gorals. Males occupy marked territories of 22 to 25 hectares during the mating season. During rut, male red gorals (Naemorhedus baileyi), a closely related species, follow females closely in order to make naso-genital contact to determine whether the female has come into heat. Females that have not come into estrus will leave the area, while females that are in heat will stand for an approaching male and signal she is in estrus by raising her tail. (Duckworth, et al., 2008; Huffman, 2008)

Male rut begins in late September to November and mating takes place in early winter. Estrus length is roughly 20 to 30 hours. Gestation length is roughly 180 days. On average, one kid is produced, but twins can also occur in rare situations. The young remain with their mother for about a year, although the time to weaning is not reported. Sexual maturity of the young is reached in the second to third year of age. (Duckworth, et al., 2008; Mead, 1989)

  • Breeding interval
    Chinese gorals breed once yearly.
  • Breeding season
    Breeding occurs in early winter.
  • Range number of offspring
    1 to 2
  • Average number of offspring
    1
  • Average gestation period
    180 days
  • Average time to independence
    1 years
  • Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
    2 to 3 years
  • Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
    2 to 3 years

Specific behaviors pertaining to parental investment in Chinese gorals have not been well documented. Kids are typically born between April and May and stay with their mother for up to a year. During this time females tend to be less aggressive. (Mead, 1989)

  • Parental Investment
  • precocial
  • pre-fertilization
    • provisioning
    • protecting
      • female
  • pre-hatching/birth
    • provisioning
      • female
    • protecting
      • female
  • pre-weaning/fledging
    • provisioning
      • female
    • protecting
      • female
  • pre-independence
    • protecting
      • female

Lifespan/Longevity

The average life span is approximately 15 years in the wild. Some captive gorals have lived to more than 17 years. In 1982 18 gorals died in an Indian zoo. Some of the causes for death of these captive gorals were taeniasis parasitic disease, pneumonia, gastroenteritis, and hepatitis. (Mead, 1989)

  • Range lifespan
    Status: captivity
    17 (high) years
  • Typical lifespan
    Status: wild
    15 (high) years
  • Typical lifespan
    Status: captivity
    15 to 17 years

Behavior

Chinese gorals usually travel in groups of 12 or fewer for most of the year. Females, kids, and subadults tend to travel in these groups, while older males are usually solitary. They tend to migrate at most 2 km in steep rocky regions. During the summer months Chinese gorals dwelling in Russia do not travel more than 1 km from their steep cliffs. During the winter, when they are not feeding, they can be found hiding under rocky overhangs and in caves. Chinese gorals avoid walking in deep snow, if the snow is deeper than 35 cm they leave belly marks in the snow as they go. Chinese gorals are diurnal or crepuscular, most active in the early morning and late evening, although they have been known to be active throughout the entire day during overcast weather. (Duckworth, et al., 2008; Mead, 1989)

  • Average territory size
    400,000 m^2

Home Range

Chinese gorals have home ranges of about 40 hectares. (Duckworth, et al., 2008)

Communication and Perception

Chinese gorals communicate with one another in times of emergency with wheezing alarm sounds. They will stomp their foot in order to threaten a predator and warn other gorals in the area. During mating season, males attract females with a “zer… zer” or “ze-ze-ze” call. When females approach and are ready to encourage a male, they make a whistling noise. The naso-genital contact required during the mating season is a form of chemical communication. (Huffman, 2008; Johnsingh, 2001)

Food Habits

Chinese gorals are grazers and browsers, eating mostly grasses in the warm months and browsing on lichens and the leaves of evergreens and deciduous trees and shrubs in the winter. When snow is on the ground, they use their muzzles to push snow to uncover grass stems and shrubs. They may also eat fruit and nuts. They typically feed during the morning and late evening. (Duckworth, et al., 2008; Mead, 1989)

  • Plant Foods
  • leaves
  • seeds, grains, and nuts
  • fruit
  • lichens

Predation

Predators of Chinese gorals include lynx, snow leopards, tigers, and wolves in some areas. Humans are also considered a predator as they hunt and poach them for their fur, meat, and parts that can be used in medicine. They do not flee until predators are almost upon them. When fleeing from a predator they bound uphill and away in irregular patterns consisting of long leaps, acting to confuse the predators. (Cavendish Corp., 2001; Duckworth, et al., 2008; Johnsingh, 2001; Mead, 1989)

Ecosystem Roles

Chinese gorals impact vegetation in their native ecosystems through grazing and browsing. They are also preyed on by lynx, leopards, wolves, tigers, and humans. Chinese gorals are also parasitized by Taeniasis tapeworms. These parasitic infections are reported in captive gorals, but may exist in the wild as well. (Cavendish Corp., 2001; Duckworth, et al., 2008; Johnsingh, 2001)

  • Ecosystem Impact
  • disperses seeds
Commensal/Parasitic Species
  • tapeworms (Taeniasis)

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Chinese gorals are hunted for meat and parts are used for traditional medicinal uses. (Duckworth, et al., 2008)

  • Positive Impacts
  • food
  • body parts are source of valuable material

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

There are no known adverse effects of Chinese gorals on humans, although some human populations object to their potential competition with domestic livestock. (Duckworth, et al., 2008)

Conservation Status

Chinese gorals are considered vulnerable species because of the estimated 30% decrease in populations in recent years. Chinese goral populations are declining as a result of habitat destruction, poaching by humans for their meat and use in traditional medicine, and competition from agriculture and domestic livestock in the areas they inhabit. (Duckworth, et al., 2008)

Other Comments

Chinese gorals are known as long-tailed gorals. (Duckworth, et al., 2008)

Contributors

Meredith Crane (author), Penn State University Park, Jami Willard (author), Penn State University Park, Jacqualine Grant (editor, instructor), Penn State University Park, Tanya Dewey (editor), Animal Diversity Web.

Glossary

Palearctic

living in the northern part of the Old World. In otherwords, Europe and Asia and northern Africa.

World Map

acoustic

uses sound to communicate

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.

chemical

uses smells or other chemicals to communicate

crepuscular

active at dawn and dusk

diurnal
  1. active during the day, 2. lasting for one day.
endothermic

animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.

folivore

an animal that mainly eats leaves.

food

A substance that provides both nutrients and energy to a living thing.

forest

forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.

herbivore

An animal that eats mainly plants or parts of plants.

iteroparous

offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).

motile

having the capacity to move from one place to another.

mountains

This terrestrial biome includes summits of high mountains, either without vegetation or covered by low, tundra-like vegetation.

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.

pheromones

chemicals released into air or water that are detected by and responded to by other animals of the same species

polygynous

having more than one female as a mate at one time

seasonal breeding

breeding is confined to a particular season

sedentary

remains in the same area

sexual

reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female

social

associates with others of its species; forms social groups.

solitary

lives alone

tactile

uses touch to communicate

temperate

that region of the Earth between 23.5 degrees North and 60 degrees North (between the Tropic of Cancer and the Arctic Circle) and between 23.5 degrees South and 60 degrees South (between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Antarctic Circle).

terrestrial

Living on the ground.

visual

uses sight to communicate

viviparous

reproduction in which fertilization and development take place within the female body and the developing embryo derives nourishment from the female.

young precocial

young are relatively well-developed when born

References

Cavendish Corp., M. 2001. Endangered Wildlife and Plants of the World. Marshall Cavendish Corporation. Accessed April 23, 2009 at http://books.google.com/books?id=40jA0MOWejIC&pg=PA640&lpg=PA640&dq=predators+of+the+goral&source=bl&ots=ZcNBfjObPO&sig=fCNjpkkDME2whUwRSD8FqwA9iEg&hl=en&ei=QM_xSff5EMuMtgfEgsCyDw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=3#PPA640,M1.

Duckworth, J., J. MacKinnon, K. Tsytsulina. 2008. "IUCN 2008 Red List - Naemorhedus caudatus" (On-line). The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Accessed April 21, 2009 at http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/14295.

Huffman, B. 2008. "Nemorhaedus baileyi Red goral" (On-line). Accessed April 24, 2009 at http://www.ultimateungulate.com/Artiodactyla/Nemorhaedus_baileyi.html.

Johnsingh, A. 2001. Wildlife and Protected Areas. Accessed April 24, 2009 at http://www.wii.gov.in/envis/ungulates/downloads/chapter12.pdf.

Mead, J. 1989. Nemorhaedus goral. The American Society of Mammologists, Issue 335: 1-5. Accessed April 22, 2009 at www.science.smith.edu/msi/pdf/0076-3519-335-01-0001.pdf.