DistributionRead full entry
Range DescriptionThis species is found in Bhutan, China (Gansu, Ningxia-Inner Mongolia border, Qinghai, Sichuan, Tibet, southeastern Xinjiang, and northern Yunnan), northern India, northern Myanmar (Rabinowitz 1996), Nepal, and northern Pakistan. Some sources have stated the species exists in Tajikistan (Grubb 2005), but recent evidence for this is lacking.
This taxon remains fairly abundant in most of its principle range among the ranges of the Tibetan Plateau in China (Schaller 1998; Harris 2007). In China, its distribution runs from western Tibet south-western Xinjiang (Schaller 1987) where there are small populations in the mountains bordering the western edge of Aru Co, extending eastwards with in scattered populations throughout the autonomous region. It also occurs in southern Xinjiang, along the Kunlun Mountains and in the Arjin Mountains. It is present in most mountain ranges of western and southern Qinghai into eastern Sichuan and northwester Yunnan, as well as in the Qilian and associated ranges of Gansu. The eastern extent of its current distribution appears to be in the Helan Shan which form the western border of Ningxia Province (with Inner Mongolia).
It is found throughout northern Bhutan above 4,000 to 4,500 m asl. Blue sheep is fairly continuously distributed in the northern Himalayan and Trans-Himalayan regions of India, although the extent of its eastern distribution along the northern border of Arunachal Pradesh is still unknown. It is relatively common in many areas of eastern Ladakh (Jammu and Kashmir), and in parts of Spiti and the upper Parbati valley in northern Himachal Pradesh (Fox et al. 1986; S. Pandey pers. comm.). Blue sheep are known to occur in the Govind Pashu Vihar Wildlife Sanctuary and Nanda Devi National Park, and near Badrinath (Uttar Pradesh), on the slopes of the Khangchendzonga massif (Sikkim), and in eastern Arunachal Pradesh. Very recently, blue sheep presence has been confirmed in the northwestern corner of Arunachal Pradesh near its border with Bhutan and China. In Nepal, it is fairly continuously distributed to the north of the Greater Himalaya from the border with India and Tibet in the extreme northwest, eastwards through Dolpo and Mustang to Gorkha district in north-central Nepal. It then re-occurs in Nepal in at least two isolated areas: in Lamobogar, and on the southwestern slopes of Kanchenjunga near the border with Sikkim (India) (Schaller 1977; Wegge 1991). These two are probably connected with more extensive populations across the border in Tibet.
Its main distribution range in Pakistan includes the upper Gujerab valley, the upper Shimshal valley, and the area eastward from Shimshal pass (District Gilgit), including part of Khunjerab NP (Schaller 1976; Roberts 1977; Rasool 1986; Wegge 1988, 1989; G. Tallone, in litt., 1993). Outside these areas there is a single, recent observation of one animal from Khunjerab pass (R. Hess, pers. obs., 1985). Earlier, Roberts (1977) mentioned its occurrence (with proof) around Shigar and the Baltoro glacier (District Baltistan), however, we have no actual information from this area. Roberts’ (1977) source for its occurrence in the Passu valley was a quote from Lydekker (1907) who mentioned “Hunza valley, near Passu”, but possibly meaning the Shimshal valley. David Mallon (pers. obs., in litt.) was unable to confirm the presence of the species in the Passu valley.
Grubb (2005) indicates that blue sheep can be found in Tajikistan, but documentation for this is not provided, and recent surveys of the Pamir area have failed to mention find evidence of occurrence in Tajikistan (Magomed et al. 2003, Schaller 2005, or neighboring regions of Taxkorgan County in Xinjiang, China (Schaller 2005) or Afghanistan (Schaller 2003). Maps of the species' distribution can be found in Shackleton (1997) and Schaller (1998).