Barbary sheep

(Ammotragus lervia)


Barbary sheep IUCN VULNERABLE (VU)


Facts about this animal

The aoudad is a relativel short-legged stocky mountain sheep. It reaches a head-body length of 130-165 cm, height at shoulder of 75-112 cm and a body weight of 40-145 kg. The bucks are considerably larger and heavier than the ewes.

The curved or spiralled horns are moderately long, thick, and triangular-based. They are found in both sexes and are larger in males (up to 84 cm long and 35.5 cm basal circumference) than in females (up to 51 cm long, 20.5 cm basal circumference). The tail is relatively (15-25 cm) long, tufted on the terminal half and naked underneath.

The coat is short and bristly, generally rufous-tawny on the upper parts. Inside of the ears, chin, belly and inner sides of the legs are whitish. There is no beard, but a ventral mane of long, soft pale coloured hair on throat and chest, and a short erect mane from the base of neck to just behind the withers.

Aoudad live solitary or in small groups; they are most active at dawn and dusk, resting in the shade during the day.

Although breeding can occur throughout the year, main rutting season is from September to November. After a gestation period of 160 days, the female gives birth to 1-3 kids, which are weaned at 3-4 months and will reach sexual maturity after 18 months. A female may give birth twice per year.


The aoudad feeds on grasses, leaves and twigs of shrubs and acacias, and lichens.

Did you know?
that Barbary sheep may survive in areas with extremely litle or no rainfall because they are able to satisfy their water requirements through the plants they eat? Of course they will drink when water is available, after rainfall or from springs and mountain pools, which makes them extremely vulnerable to hunters, especially during the hot season.


Name (Scientific) Ammotragus lervia
Name (English) Barbary sheep
Name (French) Mouflon à manchettes
Name (German) Mähnenschaf
Name (Spanish) Arrui
Local names Aoudad
CITES Status Appendix II
CMS Status Not listed



Photo Copyright by
Krzysztof Kozłowski



Range Algeria, Chad, Egypt (possibly extinct), Libya, Mali, Morocco, Niger, Sudan, Tunisia. Probably extinct in the western Sahara. Introduced populations thrive in Mexico, La Palma (Canary Islands) and the United States. Subspecies: A.l.angusi - Aïr Barbary Sheep: Niger A.l.blainei- Kordofan Barbary Sheep: Libya, Sudan A.l.fassini - Libyan Barbary Sheep: Libya, Tunisia A.l.lervia - Atlas Barbary Sheep: Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia A.l.ornata - Egyptian Barbary Sheep: Egypt (?) A.l.sahariensis - Sahara Barbary Sheep: Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Western Sahara (?)
Habitat Rough, rocky, arid shrubland, grassland and desert
Wild population 5,000-10,000, but the population is decreasing (Red List IUCN 2011)
Zoo population 959 animals of unknown subspecies reported to ISIS (2008). In addition, there were 2 A. l. angusii, 27 A. l. blainei, 18 A. l. fassini, and 5 A. l. sahariensis

In the Zoo

Barbary sheep


How this animal should be transported

For air transport, Container Requirement 73 of the IATA Live Animals Regulations should be followed.


Find this animal on ZooLex


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Why do zoos keep this animal

Several subspecies of the aoudad are threatened with extinction in the wild, however, most zoos keep subspecific hybrids or animals of unknown origin, which are of no value for conservation breeding.

Aoudads are attractive animals, however, and are good ambassadors for the threatened fauna of the Atlas, Sahara and Sahel regions.