The urial (Ovis orientalis vignei), also known as the arkars or shapo, is a subspecies group of the wild sheep Ovis orientalis. Noticeable features are the reddish-brown long fur that fades during winter; males are characterized by a black ruff stretching from the neck to the chest and large horns. It is found in western central Asia. The other subspecies group of O. orientalis is the mouflon (Ovis orientalis orientalis group). The two groups have often been considered separate species.
|Bukhara Urial (Ovis orientalis bochariensis) at Nordens Ark, Sweden|
O. o. vignei
|Ovis orientalis vignei|
Urial males have large horns, curling outwards from the top of the head turning in to end somewhere behind the head; females have shorter, compressed horns. The horns of the males may be up to 100 cm (39 in) long. The shoulder height of an adult male urial is between 80 and 90 cm (31 and 35 in).
The urial is found in western central Asia from northeastern Iran and western Kazakhstan to Pakistan's Balochistan and Chitral, as well as being found in Ladakh, India. To the east it is replaced by the bigger argali and to the southwest by the Asiatic mouflon. Its habitat consists of grassy slopes below the timberline. Urials rarely move to the rocky areas of the mountains. For example, in northern Iran they produce hybrids with Asiatic mouflon under natural conditions. Urials feed mainly on grass but are able to eat leaves of trees and bushes if needed.
The Afghan urial is found in Musakhel district in Surghar and Torghar. A 2005-2006 survey by WWF Pakistan shows 145 urials found in Surghar, Srakhowa District Musakhe. Yahay Musakhel et al. 2006)
The vignei subspecies group consists of six individual subspecies:
- Afghan urial or Turkmenian sheep (Ovis orientalis cycloceros): southern Turkmenistan, eastern Iran, Afghanistan, north Balochistan Pakistan
- Transcaspian urial (Ovis orientalis arkal): Ustjurt-Plateau (Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, northern Iran) and western Kazakhstan
- Blanford urial or Balochistan urial (Ovis orientalis blanfordi): Balochistan (Pakistan) are often included in this subspecies
- Bukhara urial (Ovis orientalis bochariensis): Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, mountains around Amu Darya
- Punjab urial (Ovis orientalis punjabiensis): the provincial animal of the Punjab (Pakistan)
- Ladakh urial (Ovis orientalis vignei): Ladakh and northern Pakistan, Kashmir, males have curly horns but the females have flat horns
- Valdez, R. (2008). "Ovis orientalis". The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2008: e.T15739A5076068. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2008.RLTS.T15739A5076068.en. Retrieved 13 January 2018. Database entry includes a brief justification of why this species is of vulnerable.
- ICZN (International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature) opinion 2027 Archived May 17, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
- Grubb, Peter (2005). Order Perissodactyla. Pp. 708-710 in: Wilson, Don E., and DeeAnn, M. (2005). Mammal Species of the World. A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference. 3d edition. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore. ISBN 0-8018-8221-4
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2008-07-03. Retrieved 2009-03-15.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
- Nowak R. M.: Walker's Mammals of the World, Sixth Edition. The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, London, 1999.
- Lingen, H.: Großes Lexikon der Tiere. Lingen Verlag, Köln.
- Prater, S. H.: The Book of Indian Animals, Oxford University Press, 1971.
- Menon, V.: A Field Guide to Indian Mammals, Dorling Kindersley, India, 2003
- CITES Instruktion für den grenztierärztlichen Dienst
- Proposal about subspecies of Urial
- Yahya M. Musakhel et al. 2006: Identification of Biodiversity Hot Spots in Musakhel District balochistan Pakistan.