Bharal or Blue sheep

(Pseudois nayaur)


Bharal or Blue sheep IUCN ENDANGERED (EN)


Facts about this animal

Although called blue sheep, bharal resemble goats rather than sheep. The Bharal is a fairly large mountain ungulate with a head-body length of 115-165, a shoulder height of 75-90 cm, a tail length of 10-20 cm, and a body weight of 35-75 kg. Males are considerably larger than females. Both sexes have horns, which are ridged on the upper surface. In males, they are considerably larger than in females, growing upwards, then turning sideways and curving backwards, and reaching a length of 80 cm. In females, the horns are much shorter and straighter, growing only up to 20 cm long.

The coat is of greyish-brown to slate-blue colour, hence the common name blue sheep. The hair is short and dense, and there is no beard. There is a black stripe that separates the upper parts of the back from the white flank and a black strip running from the front to the nose tip. The backs of the legs – and the sides of the digits - are white, the fronts black.

Bharal are solitary or live in groups of usually less than 20 animals which for most of the year are either female or male groups. They are active throughout the day, alternating between feeding and resting. Due to their excellent camouflage and the absence of cover in their alpine environment, bharal remain motionless when approached. Main predators are snow leoaprds and leopard, lambs may be taken by foxes and tawny eagles.

Sexual maturity is reached at the age of 1.5 years. Mating occurs between October and January. After a gestation period of 160 days, the female gives birth to usually one lamb, which is weaned after 6 months. The life span may be 12-15 years.

Bharal feed on grasses, lichens, hardy herbaceous plants, and mosses.

Did you know?
that the blue tint of the bharals' fur makes them almost invisible against the background of blue-greyish rock that is typical within their habitat?


Name (Scientific) Pseudois nayaur
Name (English) Bharal or Blue sheep
Name (French) Grand bharal
Name (German) Blauschaf
Name (Spanish) Cabra azul del Himalaya
Local names Hindi: Bharal Nepali: Nahur
CITES Status Not listed
CMS Status Not listed



Photo Copyright by
Christian Schmidt



Range Bhutan, China, India, Nepal, Pakistan, possibly Tadjikistan
Habitat Montane habittats, including alpine grasslands, subalpine forests, cliffs, and deserts.
Wild population Approx. 47.000-414.000 (Red List IUCN 2011)
Zoo population 122 reported to ISIS (2008)

In the Zoo

Bharal or Blue 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


Photo Copyright by
Christian Schmidt

Why do zoos keep this animal

The blue sheep in an attractive mountain ungulate, which is a good ambassador species for Central Asian mountain ranges and the conservation of the species community living there. The species is also of educational interest when kept in ecodisplays as it is a main prey species of the endangered snow leopard.