Budorcas taxicolortakin

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Geographic Range

The species Budorcas taxicolor is found in Eastern Tibet, Sikkim, Bhutan, northern Assam, northern Burma, and central and southern China. (Nowak 1999)

Habitat

This species is found in elevations from 1000 to 4250 meters. The habitat ranges from rocky, grass covered alpine zones to forested valleys. (Parker 1989)

Physical Description

Also known as "cattle chamois" and "gnu goat," the takin has physical similarities to all of these animals. The body length of an adult male is between 210 and 220 cm, and a female is about 170 cm. The tail reaches about 15 cm, and is usually hidden under the thick, long, shaggy fur. The coat is whitish yellow to golden yellow to reddish brown, and has a dark stripe down the back. A male grows to stand about 120 cm at the shoulders, whereas a female is around 105 cm. The takin's head is large with an arched muzzle and a broad, naked nose. The horns, which appear in both sexes, can be as long as 64 cm. They are "transversely ribbed" and start "near the midline of the head, abruptly turn outward, and then sweep backward and upward" (Nowak 1999, p.1215). The legs are short and have large, strong two-toed hooves with a highly developed spur. (Parker 1989, Nowak 1999, Minelli and Minelli 1997)

  • Range mass
    150 to 400 kg
    330.40 to 881.06 lb
  • Range length
    170 to 220 cm
    66.93 to 86.61 in

Reproduction

Mating in this species occurs in July and August. Gestation lasts around 7 or 8 months. Only one young is conceived during each pregnancy, and it usually weighs between 5 and 7 kg at birth. The young are able to follow their mother around within 3 days of birth, and they start to eat solid food after the first one or two months of life. Sexual maturity is attained after 30 months. (Nowak 1999)

  • Key Reproductive Features
  • gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate)
  • sexual
  • Range number of offspring
    1 to 2
  • Average number of offspring
    1
  • Average number of offspring
    1
    AnAge
  • Range gestation period
    6.67 to 7.33 months
  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
    Sex: female
    730 days
    AnAge
  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
    Sex: male
    730 days
    AnAge
  • Parental Investment
  • post-independence association with parents
  • extended period of juvenile learning

Lifespan/Longevity

Behavior

This species lives in large herds of up to 300 individuals in the upper elevations during the summer, and up to 20 members in the smaller bands that form during winter months. The older males are usually solitary and spend only the mating months with a group. The takin is a very slow moving animal, but also has the ability to leap nimbly from rock to rock on challenging slopes. It spends most of the day in thick vegetation, emerging only to eat. There are seasonal migrations from upper elevations in the summer to lower areas in the winter. When in danger, an individual warns the other members of the herd with a coughing sound. The individuals then run for cover in the dense underbrush. Individuals sometimes spray the underside of their bodies with urine for reasons unknown. (Palmer 1989)

Communication and Perception

Food Habits

The takin is a generalist herbivore, mostly a browser. It feeds in the early morning or late afternoon and eats primarily deciduous leaves found on trees or shrubs, but also grasses and herbs. During the winter, the food of choice is twigs or evergreen leaves. This species has been known to topple saplings up to 10 cm in diameter, or even stand on it hind legs in order to reach leaves. Takins also require great mineral intake, and sometimes travel great distances to reach salt deposits, where they may stay for several days. (Minelli and Minelli 1997, Parker 1989)

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Native peoples commonly hunt the takin for its meat. (Nowak 1999)

  • Positive Impacts
  • food

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

None found

Conservation Status

The takin is endangered because of overhunting and habitat destruction. It is also prey to bears and wolves. (Nowak 1999)

Contributors

Jonathan Marceau (author), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Phil Myers (editor), Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.

Glossary

Palearctic

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

World Map

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

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.

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.

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.

oriental

found in the oriental region of the world. In other words, India and southeast Asia.

World Map

sexual

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

sexual ornamentation

one of the sexes (usually males) has special physical structures used in courting the other sex or fighting the same sex. For example: antlers, elongated tails, special spurs.

social

associates with others of its species; forms social groups.

solitary

lives alone

tactile

uses touch to communicate

taiga

Coniferous or boreal forest, located in a band across northern North America, Europe, and Asia. This terrestrial biome also occurs at high elevations. Long, cold winters and short, wet summers. Few species of trees are present; these are primarily conifers that grow in dense stands with little undergrowth. Some deciduous trees also may be present.

tropical savanna and grassland

A terrestrial biome. Savannas are grasslands with scattered individual trees that do not form a closed canopy. Extensive savannas are found in parts of subtropical and tropical Africa and South America, and in Australia.

savanna

A grassland with scattered trees or scattered clumps of trees, a type of community intermediate between grassland and forest. See also Tropical savanna and grassland biome.

temperate grassland

A terrestrial biome found in temperate latitudes (>23.5° N or S latitude). Vegetation is made up mostly of grasses, the height and species diversity of which depend largely on the amount of moisture available. Fire and grazing are important in the long-term maintenance of grasslands.

References

Minelli, A., M. Minelli. 1997. The Great Book of Animals. Philadelphia, PA: Courage Books.

Nowak, R. 1999. Walker's Mammals of the World. Baltimore, MD: The John Hopkins University Press.

Parker, S. 1989. Grzimek's Encyclopedia of Mammals. Hastings-on-Hudson, NY: The Language Service, Inc..