Naemorhedus goralgoral

Last updated:

Geographic Range

Himalayan gorals range throughout the Himalayas from Bhutan to Pakistan. ("Caprinae", 2003; Matthews, 1971)

Habitat

Naemorhedus goral occupies the forests and scrub-covered slopes of the of the Himalayas. Himalayan gorals can be found at elevations from 1000 m to 4000 m. ("Caprinae", 2003; Duckworth and MacKinnon, 2008; Matthews, 1971)

  • Range elevation
    1000 to 4000 m
    3280.84 to 13123.36 ft

Physical Description

Himalayan gorals are medium sized herbivores and are the smallest of the goat-antelopes (subfamily Caprinae). They range in body length from 81 to 130 cm and stand 56 to 80 cm tall. Himalayan gorals weigh from 25 to 30 kg. They are stout animals; a strong and stocky build is probably advantageous for maneuvering the craggy terrain of the Himalayas. Male and females are similar in size and both genders have short, sharp horns that curve posteriorly. Horns are rarely longer than 15 cm. Himalayan gorals are dark grey or brown with a darker colored dorsal stripe and a lighter patch of hair on the throat. The hair is short and coarse and males have manes from their necks to their chests. Himalayan gorals lack a pre-orbital gland, which is present in closely related serows. ("Caprinae", 2003; "Naemorhedus Goral", 1987; Morris, 1965)

  • Range mass
    25 to 30 kg
    55.07 to 66.08 lb
  • Range length
    81 to 130 cm
    31.89 to 51.18 in

Reproduction

Himalayan gorals are polygynous. Dominant males have mating rights to all females in their ranges during the breeding season. This dominance is established through threatening displays and combat with other males. When Himalayan gorals fight, they attempt to wound the flank of their opponent with their small, dagger-like horns instead of engaging in head-to-head butting. Males court females with low stretches, lip curling, spraying of urine, and tail raising. ("Caprinae", 2003; Duckworth and MacKinnon, 2008; Morris, 1965)

Himalayan gorals mate in November and December so that young are born in spring and early summer when vegetation is abundant. Females give birth to one young per breeding season. Gestation lasts roughly 6 months, after which the female gives birth in isolation. After several days of hiding, the young begins to follow the mother. Juvenile gorals are weaned 4 to 5 months after birth. They are sexually mature at 2 to 3 years of age. ("Caprinae", 2003; Duckworth and MacKinnon, 2008; Morris, 1965)

  • Breeding interval
    Himalayan gorals breed once yearly.
  • Breeding season
    Himalayan gorals breed in November and December.
  • Range number of offspring
    1 to 1
  • Range gestation period
    5 to 7 months
  • Range weaning age
    4 to 5 months
  • Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
    2 to 3 years
  • Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
    2 to 3 years

Female Himalayan gorals raise their young with no help from the males, as males only associate with herds during the breeding season. Young Himalayan gorals follow their mother until weaned and remain with the group to which their mother belongs after reaching sexual maturity. ("Caprinae", 2003)

  • Parental Investment
  • precocial
  • female parental care
  • pre-fertilization
    • provisioning
    • protecting
      • female
  • pre-hatching/birth
    • provisioning
      • female
    • protecting
      • female
  • pre-weaning/fledging
    • provisioning
      • female
    • protecting
      • female
  • pre-independence
    • provisioning
      • female
    • protecting
      • female
  • post-independence association with parents

Lifespan/Longevity

The expected lifespan of Himalayan gorals, once they have survived to maturity, is 15 years. (Duckworth and MacKinnon, 2008)

  • Average lifespan
    Status: wild
    15 years

Behavior

Himalayan gorals are diurnal but most active during the early morning and evening (crepuscular). After grazing in the early morning, the animals spend the day relaxing in caves or on cliffs. Himalayan gorals are very agile and can easily traverse the arduous landscape of the Himalayas. They make small altitudinal migrations seasonally; in the colder months they move to lower altitudes to graze, returning to higher altitudes during warmer months. When snow blankets all available food sources, Himalayan gorals push the snow away with their snouts instead of digging or scratching with their hooves.

Himalayan gorals are gregarious, but adult males live in solitude until the breeding season. Females and juveniles graze in herds of four to twelve individuals ("Caprinae", 2003; "Naemorhedus Goral", 1987; Duckworth and MacKinnon, 2008; Geist, 1971; Matthews, 1971)

  • Range territory size
    220000 to 400000 m^2

Home Range

Herds of females and juveniles occupy a range of 40 hectares. Solitary males occupy a 22 to 25 hectare territory. ("Caprinae", 2003; Duckworth and MacKinnon, 2008)

Communication and Perception

Himalayan gorals rely on their vision and hearing to sense their surroundings. Their acute sense of sight allows them to see predators while they rest or graze. These animals use a series of snorts, whistles, and sneezes to indicate alarm to other gorals. Like most other mammals, it is likely that olfaction is an important sense as well. ("Caprinae", 2003)

Food Habits

Himalayan gorals are herbivores and eat a wide range of vegetation including herbs, shoots, roots, twigs, lichen, fungi, leaves, and grasses. ("Caprinae", 2003; Fukhar-i-Abbas, et al., 2008)

  • Plant Foods
  • leaves
  • roots and tubers
  • wood, bark, or stems
  • seeds, grains, and nuts
  • flowers
  • bryophytes
  • lichens
  • Other Foods
  • fungus

Predation

Snow leopards, Eurasian lynx, wolves, wild dogs, and humans all prey on Himalayan gorals. The dark grey pelage of Himalayan gorals and their relatively sedentary behavior during the day allow them to blend in with the surrounding mountainside. Their agility in rough terrain also helps them to avoid less sure-footed predators. (Thomas, 2001)

  • Anti-predator Adaptations
  • cryptic

Ecosystem Roles

Himalayan gorals are grazers, impacting vegetation communities in their mountain habitats. They also provide valuable source of nutrition for several predators that inhabit the unforgiving crags of the Himalayas. (Thomas, 2001)

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Humans hunt Himalayan gorals for meat, wool, and hides. Goral blood is also used medicinally in some Asian cultures, although its efficacy is not proven. ("Caprinae", 2003)

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

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

There are no known adverse affects of Naemorhedus goral on humans.

Conservation Status

Himalayan gorals are listed as near threatened as of 2008 by the IUCN. They are also on Appendix I of CITES. Populations are declining due to habitat loss and hunting. As humans begin to construct roads that spread deeper into the mountains of the Himalayas, populations of Himalayan gorals increasingly lose habitats that suit their isolated nature. Additionally, advances in weapon technology allow hunters to kill gorals from farther distances. (Duckworth and MacKinnon, 2008)

One study found that Himalayan gorals graze primarily on several grasses that are endemic to the Himalayas. If Himalayan gorals become more seriously endangered, human cultivation of these grasses could provide surviving Himalayan gorals with a reliable and preferred food source. (Fukhar-i-Abbas, et al., 2008)

Other Comments

Himalayan gorals are also known as grey gorals. ("Caprinae", 2003)

Contributors

Eric Cohen (author), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Phil Myers (editor, instructor), Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, 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.

chaparral

Found in coastal areas between 30 and 40 degrees latitude, in areas with a Mediterranean climate. Vegetation is dominated by stands of dense, spiny shrubs with tough (hard or waxy) evergreen leaves. May be maintained by periodic fire. In South America it includes the scrub ecotone between forest and paramo.

chemical

uses smells or other chemicals to communicate

crepuscular

active at dawn and dusk

cryptic

having markings, coloration, shapes, or other features that cause an animal to be camouflaged in its natural environment; being difficult to see or otherwise detect.

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

ranking system or pecking order among members of a long-term social group, where dominance status affects access to resources or mates

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.

female parental care

parental care is carried out by females

fertilization

union of egg and spermatozoan

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).

migratory

makes seasonal movements between breeding and wintering grounds

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

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

scrub forest

scrub forests develop in areas that experience dry seasons.

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

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

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.

territorial

defends an area within the home range, occupied by a single animals or group of animals of the same species and held through overt defense, display, or advertisement

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

2003. Caprinae. Pp. 87-98 in M Hutchins, ed. Grzinek's Animal Life Encyclopedia, Vol. 16, 2 Edition. Detroit: Thomson-Gale Publishing.

1987. Naemorhedus Goral. D Macdonald, ed. The Encyclopedia of Mammals, Vol. 1, 1 Edition. New York, NY: Facts on File Publishing.

Duckworth, J., J. MacKinnon. 2008. "Naemorhedus Goral" (On-line). Red List of Endangered Species. Accessed April 05, 2009 at http://www.iucnredlist.org.

Fukhar-i-Abbas, F., T. Akhtar, A. Mian. 2008. Food & Feeding Preferences of Himalayan Gray Goral in Pakistan and Arad Jammu and Kashmir. Zoo Biology, 27/5: 371-380.

Geist, V. 1971. Mountain Sheep: A Study in Behavior & Evolution. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Matthews, L. 1971. Life of Mammals. New York: Universe Books.

Morris, D. 1965. The Mammals. New York: Harper & Row Publishing.

Thomas, W. 2001. Endangered Wildlife and Plants of the World. Marshall Cavendish. Accessed April 10, 2009 at http://books.google.com/books?id=40jA0MOWejIC&pg=PA640&lpg=PA640&dq=goral+predators&source=bl&ots=ZcMKdjReUS&sig=QaUtyiqpZ_u0aXiEOOt8jbiPnhU&hl=en&ei=2ozfSdKkBIrinQfh89mkCQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=3#PPA640,M1.