Himalayan gorals range throughout the Himalayas from Bhutan to Pakistan.
Biogeographic Regions: palearctic (Native ); oriental (Native )
Naemorhedus goral goral
This subspecies, also referred to N. goral hodgsoni in China (Smith and Xie 2008), has a narrow distribution zone in China that is located in the border area of Tibet. Specimens have been collected from Cuona, Gyirong (Zongga) and Zhangmo. In Bhutan, goral occurs throughout the northern third of the country. Goral are also found across most of the southern slopes of the Himalayas of northern India from Jammu and Kashmir to eastern Arunachal Pradesh, as far as the Brahmaputra.
The subspecies N. goral bedfordi and N. g. goral are apparently separated by Nepal, with the former occurring in Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Uttaranchal, and the latter in Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh (Sathyakumar 2002). In India, the Himalayan goral is apparently patchily distributed along the Himalayan mountain ranges in Jammu and Kashmir, with reports of its presence in Dachigam National Park (Johnsingh et al., unpublished data), Kisthwar National Park and possibly in the Limber Wildlife Sanctuary. It is still widely distributed and locally common in the Sutlej and Beas River catchments of Himachal Pradesh (Cavallini 1992; Fox et al. 1986; Gaston 1986; Gaston et al. 1981, 1983). Reports also confirm its continued presence between 1,600 and 2,100 m in the Simla Water Catchment Reserve and the Chail and Majathal Harsang Wildlife Sanctuaries in Himachal Pradesh (Gaston et al. 1981; Lovari and Apollonio 1993). Goral is also widespread in Uttaranchal Pradesh (Singh 1985; Negi 2002). Goral are present at elevations of 1,800 to 2,000 m in much of Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary (Green 1985), 1,680 to 3,600 m in Govind Pashu Vihar Wildlife Sanctuary (Fox et al. 1986), and 1,900 to 2,500 m at Kunj Kharak (northeast of Corbett National Park), Uttaranchal. It is found between 900 and 2,750 m in the eastern Himalayan states of Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh.
In Nepal, Himalayan goral are widely distributed on the forested slopes up to the timberline (Wegge and Oli 1997). Goral are found in northern Myanmar, although their species status remains uncertain, and no recent distribution data are available.
Naemorhedus goral bedfordi
In Pakistan, this goral occurs in the outer Himalayan foothills that form the western extremity of the species’ range. Roberts (1977) stated that within the Federal Capital Territory and the Rawalpindi District of the Punjab Province, it inhabited the Murree foothills and the Margalla range. However, its present occurrence in Punjab is doubtful (Chaudhry, unpublished data). Roberts (1977) also mentioned the occurrence of the species in Azad Jammu and Kashmir in parts of the Neelum Valley beyond Ath Muqam (District Muzaffarabad), while Qayyum (1985) and the Zoological Survey Department (1986) describe it in the District of Kotli, at three places in the District of Muzaffarabad, and in the region of Poonch. In the NWFP, its range extends from the Districts of Abbottabad, Mansehra, Mardan, Kohistan and Swat, to the areas of Dir, Malakand and Nowshera which possibly still form the western limit of its range. The main surviving population in Pakistan is probably in the Indus Kohistan region between Swat and the Kunhar Valley catchment (Roberts 1977). The gray goral has been recorded from 1,000 up to 4,000 meters.
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.
Range mass: 25 to 30 kg.
Range length: 81 to 130 cm.
Other Physical Features: endothermic ; homoiothermic; bilateral symmetry
Sexual Dimorphism: sexes alike; ornamentation
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.
Range elevation: 1000 to 4000 m.
Habitat Regions: temperate ; terrestrial
Terrestrial Biomes: chaparral ; forest ; scrub forest ; mountains
Habitat and Ecology
Himalayan gorals are herbivores and eat a wide range of vegetation including herbs, shoots, roots, twigs, lichen, fungi, leaves, and grasses.
Plant Foods: leaves; roots and tubers; wood, bark, or stems; seeds, grains, and nuts; flowers; bryophytes; lichens
Other Foods: fungus
Primary Diet: herbivore (Folivore )
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.
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.
- snow leopards (Uncia uncia)
- Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx)
- grey wolves (Canis lupus)
- feral dogs (Canis lupus familiaris)
- humans (Homo sapiens)
Anti-predator Adaptations: cryptic
Life History and Behavior
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.
Communication Channels: visual ; acoustic
Other Communication Modes: pheromones
Perception Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic ; chemical
The expected lifespan of Himalayan gorals, once they have survived to maturity, is 15 years.
Status: wild: 15 years.
Lifespan, longevity, and ageing
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.
Mating System: polygynous
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.
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.
Key Reproductive Features: iteroparous ; seasonal breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual ; fertilization ; viviparous
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.
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
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Barcode data: Naemorhedus goral
No available public DNA sequences.
Download FASTA File
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Naemorhedus goral
Public Records: 3
Specimens with Barcodes: 3
Species With Barcodes: 1
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.
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.
US Federal List: no special status
CITES: appendix i
State of Michigan List: no special status
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: near threatened
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
- 1996Lower Risk/near threatened(Baillie and Groombridge 1996)
Date Listed: 06/14/1976
Lead Region: Foreign (Region 10)
Where Listed: East Asia
Population location: East Asia
Listing status: E
For most current information and documents related to the conservation status and management of Naemorhedus goral , see its USFWS Species Profile
No estimate of population size is available in China, but numbers are thought to be small (Feng et al., 1986). In India, densities have been variously estimated: 2.6/km² in Kedarnath Sanctuary in Uttaranchal (Green 1987a), 1.2/km² in Daranghati Sanctuary, 1.5/km² in Rupi Bhaba Sanctuary, and 4.6 to 10.5/km² in Majathal Harsang Wildlife Sanctuary (Lovari and Apollonio, 1993), all in Himachal Pradesh (Pandey 2002). If suitable habitats are available in the absence of excessive hunting - even with moderate human disturbance (e.g. grass and fodder cutting) - goral can occur in good numbers. Its forested habitat makes censusing populations difficult in Nepal.
Naemorhedus goral bedfordi
There is no total estimate of population size for N. g. bedfordi. Two hundred animals were counted during a wildlife census by the NWFP Forest Department (NWFP, 1987). A total of 233 were estimated in the NWF in 1992 (NWFP, 1992). During this census, no goral were recorded in Abbottabad or Swat Districts. Eight-hundred ninety-three were estimated in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (Qayyum, 1986-87). Margalla Hills National Park contains an estimated 40 to 60 goral, and the population was believed to be slowly increasing (Maqsood, 1989).
In China, hunting is probably the main threat to its survival; however, the extent is unknown. It may be limited due to the predominant religious beliefs of Tibetan people, which reduces hunting. In Bhutan, although some parts of the range are in reasonable condition, in other areas, its habitat is being destroyed by overgrazing by livestock, and in the area previously in Doga National Park, by grass burning during the dry season (Blower, 1985a).
In India, within protected areas, the status of goral populations is probably satisfactory. Nevertheless, they are often hunted for meat even within many of the protected areas. The most significant threat to them is severe habitat disturbance and alteration, particularly in the lower portions of the Himalayas and in northeastern India. However, limited disturbance and habitat alteration that creates or maintains some shrub and forest cover, may not be greatly detrimental to the survival of goral populations. In Nepal, the threats are poaching, and habitat destruction resulting from logging, agriculture and livestock grazing.
Naemorhedus goral goral
N. g. goral is listed as a Class II protected species and receives some protection in the Qomolangma Nature Reserve on the border with Nepal. Conservation measures proposed for China: 1) Determine status and distribution before 2) developing a detailed conservation strategy.
Goral in Bhutan are known to occur in Doga, and Royal Manas National Parks (Green, 1987b), and appear to be well protected in Jigme Dorji National Park (Wollenhaupt, 1989d, Johnsingh 2005), and Black Mountains and Thrumsingla National Parks. Although Doga National Park was established mainly to protect this goral, the habitat is so degraded by exploitation that the Park is of almost no conservation value for the species (Blower, 1986; Wollenhaupt, 1989a) and has since been removed from the country’s protected areas system. Conservation measures proposed for Bhutan: Surveys to determine numbers and distribution.
In India, both the Western Himalayan goral (N. goral bedfordi) and the Eastern Himalayan goral (N. g. gopal) are listed as Lower Risk/near threatened, which allows adult male goral to be hunted under special license. This status has essentially been applied to all forms of goral and accepted by all states except Nagaland and in Himachal Pradesh where goral are legally and completely protected. Some 50 protected areas in India are reported to include some goral (Singh, 1985; Rodgers and Panwar, 1988; Pandey 2002), including Jammu and Kashmir - Kishtwar National Park, Nandni and Surinsar Mansar Wildlife Sanctuaries, and possibly in Limber Game Reserve and Overa-Aru Wildlife Sanctuary (latest surveys fail to document species’ presence); Himachal Pradesh- Great Himalayan National Park, Bandi Churdar, Chail, Daranghati, Darlaghat, Gamgul Siahbehi, Kalatop-Khajjiar, Kanawar, Khokhan, Kugti, Lippa Asrang, Majathal, Manali, Naina Devi, Nargu, Raksham Chitkul, Renuka, Rupi Bhaba, Sangla valley, Sechu Tuan Nala, Shikari Devi, Shilli (locally threatened), Simbalbara, Simla Water Catchment, Talra, Tirthan and Tundah (locally threatened) Wildlife Sanctuaries; Uttaranchal (Negi 2002) - Corbett, Nanda Devi, Rajaji and Valley of Flowers National Parks, Askot, Sonanadi, Binsar, Musorriie, Govind Pashu Vihar and Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuaries; Sikkim - Khangchendzonga National Park; Megahalaya - Balphakram National Park; and Assam - possibly in Buxa Tiger Reserve. Conservation measures proposed for India: 1) Establish the proposed Srikhand National Park (Himachal Pradesh) which includes the range of N. g. bedjordi. 2) Develop a management program for goral living outside protected areas. Habitat alteration and disturbance by heavy grazing and hunting will continue to negatively affect goral populations throughout northern India. However, it is apparently able to survive in areas of substantial human farming and grazing activity, as long as patches of rugged, brush-covered slopes are maintained. 3) Develop a management plan to prevent overhunting in non-protected areas, and to increase effective protection in parks and sanctuaries, if viable populations are to be maintained.
In Nepal, goral occurs in eight National Parks (Khaptad, Lake Rara, Langtang, Makalu-Barun (and Conservation Area), Royal Bardia, Royal Chitwan, Sagarmatha, and Shey-Phoksundo; Wegge and Oli 1997), as well as within the Annapurna Conservation Area, Dhorpatan Hunting Reserve and Parsa Wildlife Reserve. Conservation measures for Nepal include: 1) In some areas, consider a management program for sustainable, low level, subsistence hunting by local villagers and trophy hunting, after goral population censuses and productivity studies have been made. Basic research on the relationship between habitat type and goral abundance is vital if subsistence cropping is to be promoted. 2) DNPWC could perhaps conduct a case study of this relationship within one of the park buffer zones. This would not only provide the much needed data, but also might deflect some of the local concern about crop damage caused by this species).
Naemorhedus goral bedfordi
The subspecies in Pakistan is legally protected, as are all wild mammals in the country, but enforcement of the laws is not satisfactory. A proposal has been made (Green 1993) that Margalla Hills NP should include a 3,100 ha enclosure for captive breeding and reintroductions. In 1988, between 40 and 60 goral were reported in this National Park (Maqsood, 1989). Known protected areas with goral include: NWFP – Haripur (previously Abbottabad) District: Makhunal GR, Surrana GR (Zool. Survey Dept., 1987); Mansehra District: Manshi WS (Zool. Survey Dept., 1987); Mardan District: Sudham GR; Swat District: Giddar Baik WS, Daggar GR (Zool. Survey Dept., 1987); Boner District: Totalai GR (Zool. Survey Dept., 1987); Nowshera District: Manglot WS or Nizampur GR (Zool. Survey Dept., 1987); ad Jammu and Kashmir - Muzaffarabad District: Salkhala WS, Ghamot GR, Machiara GR, Qazi Nag GR (Zool. Survey Dept., 1986); and Federal Capital Territory - Margalla Hills NP (Maqsood, 1989). Conservation measures proposed for Pakistan: 1) Secure the protection of the population in the Margalla Hills NP. 2) Establish several other focal areas (see General conservation measures proposed above). 3) To this end, there is an urgent need to obtain more information about the actual distribution and status of the species. 4) Identify areas suitable for protection at the same time that censuses are made. 5) Develop and implement conservation management strategies, including populations on private lands.
The taxonomic validity of this species, and its relationship to other species in the genus Naemorhedus needs to be assessed.
Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems
There are no known adverse affects of Naemorhedus goral on humans.
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.
Positive Impacts: food ; body parts are source of valuable material
The Himalayan goral (Naemorhedus goral) is a bovid species found across the Himalayas. It has been classified as "Near Threatened" by IUCN because it is believed to be in significant decline due to hunting for food and habitat loss.
The Himalayan goral is 95 to 130 cm (37 to 51 in) in length and weighs 35–42 kg (77–93 lb). It has a gray or gray-brown coat with tan legs, lighter patches on its throat, and a single dark stripe along its spine. Males have short manes on their necks. Both males and females have backward-curving horns which can grow up to 18 cm (7.1 in) in length.
In addition to certain peculiarities in the form of the skull, gorals are chiefly distinguished from the closely related serows in that they do not possess preorbital glands below their eyes, nor corresponding depressions in their skulls.
Distribution and habitat
Himalayan gorals are found in the forests of the Himalayas including Bhutan, northern India including Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh, Nepal, southern Tibet, and possibly western Myanmar. They inhabit most of the southern slopes of the Himalayas from Jammu and Kashmir to eastern Arunachal Pradesh. In India and Nepal they are present at elevations from 900 to 2,750 m (2,950 to 9,020 ft). In Pakistan they have been recorded from 1,000 to 4,000 m (3,300 to 13,100 ft) altitude but their present occurrence in Punjab is doubtful. Group home range size is typically around 40 ha (0.40 km2), with males occupying marked territories of 22–25 ha (0.22–0.25 km2) during the mating season.
In Pakistan, a minimum of 370–1017 grey goral are distributed in seven isolated populations as of 2004.
Ecology and behaviour
Himalayan goral often form small bands of four to twelve individuals, although they are also known to pair off or, especially in the case of older males, be solitary. The animal is crepuscular, being most active in the early morning and late evening. After a morning meal, it often drinks and then rests on a rock ledge through the day. It feeds on leaves and associated softer parts of plants, mainly grasses.
The Himalayan goral is very agile and can run quickly. Due to its coloration it is very well camouflaged, so that it is extremely difficult to sight it, especially since it spends much of the day lying still. However, it is hunted by various predators. When threatened, the Himalayan goral will vocalize with hissing or sneezing sounds.
Himalayan goral can live for 14 or 15 years. The female gives birth after a gestation period of 170-218 days, usually to a single offspring. The young are weaned at 7 or 8 months of age and reach sexual maturity at around 3 years.
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- Duckworth, J.W. and MacKinnon, J. (2008). "Naemorhedus goral". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2012.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature.
- Fakhar-i-Abbas, F., Ruckstuhl, K. E., Mian, A., Akhtar, T., Rooney, T. P. (2012). "Distribution, population size, and structure of Himalayan grey goral Naemorhedus goral bedfordi (Cetartiodactyla: Bovidae) in Pakistan". Mammalia 76 (2): 143–147
- Fakhar-i-Abbas, F., Akhtar, T., Mian, A. (2008). Food and Feeding Preferences of Himalayan Gray Goral (Naemorhedus goral bedfordi) in Pakistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir. Zoo Biology 27 (5): 371–380
- Fakhar-i-Abbas, F. (2009). Ecobiology of Gray Goral (Naemorhedus goral): Gray Goral in Pakistan. Saarbrücken: VDM Verlag