The bovid known as the Wild Goat (Capra aegagrus) was the progenitor of the Domestic Goat, although domestic goats have probably been hybridized with other wild goat species in Asia. Wild Goats are found in western Asia (since their introduction in 1970, a free-roaming population maintained by hunting at 500 to 1000 individuals has also existed in New Mexico [U.S.A.]). They live in rocky habitats associated with cliffs from sea level to around 4000 m (but usually below 2500 m). Although in Daghestan they inhabit some montane forests, in general Wild Goats are associated with deserts and semi-arid areas. Natural predators such as Gray Wolves (Canis lupus) and Leopards (Panthera pardus) have been extirpated in most areas now occupied by Wild Goats.
Both sexes have horns, but on males these are much larger, curving up and backwards. Wild Goats are diurnal, feeding in the early morning and late afternoon during warm weather. In areas with large populations, herds may include 100 to 200 animals. During the dry season, large congregations can occur near watering sites.
Wild Goats occur in disjunct populations throughout their range. They have been extirpated from Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria and their status in Iraq and Afghanistan is unknown. Over most of their distribution, viable populations rarely occur outside protected areas. Major threats to Wild Goat populations include habitat deterioration due to use by livestock, hunting, and predation by feral and domestic dogs.
Domestic Goats are sometimes referred to as Capra aegagrus hircus, but Valdez (2011) treats the Domestic Goat as a distinct species, Capra hircus. Feral Domestic Goats have a far wider distribution around the world than do true Wild Goats. The endemic goats on Crete and nearby islands, which are often referred to as C. aegagrus cretica, look similar to wild C, aegagrus, but genetic analyses have indicated that in fact they are actually, as some researchers have suspected, feral domestic goats descended from a very early introduction (Bar-Gal et al. 2002; Masseti 2009).
(Valdez 2011 and references therein)
- Bar-Gal, G.K.; P. Smith, P; E. Tchernov, et al. 2002. Genetic evidence for the origin of the agrimi goat (Capra aegagrus cretica). Journal of Zoology 256: 369-377.
- Masseti, M. 2009. The wild goats Capra aegagrus Erxleben, 1777 of the Mediterranean Sea and the Eastern Atlantic Ocean islands. Mammal Review 39(2): 141-157.
- Valdez, R. 2011. Wild Goat (Capra aegagrus). P. 719 in: Wilson, D.E. and Mittermeier, R.A., eds. Handbook of the Mammals of the World. Volume 2. Hoofed Mammals. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.
Its range in particular countries and regions is as follows:
It is probably confined to the Hazarajat and Uruzgan mountains in central Afghanistan, including the arid Feroz Koh and Siyah Koh in the headwaters of the Hari Rud, Farah Rud, Helmand and Arghandab rivers. However, no animals were observed by FAO or WWF survey teams in the 1970s, but horns and skulls were occasionally seen at shrines and grave sites. One captive animal seen in 1975 in a private zoo in Kandahar, was reputedly caught in the nearby mountains. The species had probably been reduced to a small portion of its former range by the late 1970s (Habibi 1977). Its current status in the country is unknown.
One subspecies of the wild goat is recognised in the Caucasus. The distribution of C. a. aegagrus is in two separate parts. It occurs in forested areas along northern slopes of the Greater Caucasus mountains from the Upper Argun river, in Chechen-Ingushetia and in Georgia, up to the headwaters of the Jurmut river (around 42Â°30?N, 46Â°E) in Daghestan, with an isolated population on the southern slopes of Mount Babadagh, Azerbaijan. It also occurs in the drier, more open habitats in the Caucasus Minor mountains in both Azerbaijan and Armenia, south and east of Sevang lake, namely the Shakhdagh, Mrovdagh, Karabakh, Gegam, Vardenis and Zangezur ranges, and on the Delidagh massif between 39Â° to 40Â°30?N and 45Â° to 46Â°39?E.
The wild goat is widely distributed throughout Iran wherever large areas of rocky terrain are available. This includes not only mountainous areas, but also cliffs along the seashore, in deciduous forested areas of the north, and in areas of the central desert.
If it still occurs in Iraq, it would most likely be found in the Zagros mountains in the extreme north and along the northeastern border with Iran. Nothing is known of current distributions.
The wild goat used to be relatively common in Barouk, the Ammiq mountains and on Mount Harmon, northern Lebanon. However, by the early 1900s it was extinct in Lebanon (Kumerloeve 1975; Harrison 1968).
The present range of Sind wild goat (C. a. blythi) is the Baluchistan plateau and its foothills in south-western Pakistan. Populations are scattered on arid mountain ranges that are isolated by lowlands of southern Baluchistan and Sind. The range includes the low Mekran coastal range (District Gwadar), areas up to 3,250 m asl in the Koh-i-Maran range south of Quetta (District Kalat), and also the Kirthar range (Districts of Dadu and Las Bela) (Roberts 1977, Schaller 1977, Bollmann 1989). A second subspecies, the Chiltan goat (C. a. chialtanensis) was restricted in the early 1970s to four or five populations in the accessible mountain ranges (Chiltan, Murdar, Koh-i-Maran and Koh-i-Gishk ranges) south of Quetta (Roberts 1977, Schaller 1977). Today, these have been reduced, principally by uncontrolled hunting, to only one surviving population in the Hazarganji-Chiltan National Park (Districts of Quetta and Kalat).
Wild goat was reported in northern Syria, in the mountains north of Dimasq, and must once have occurred in the western mountains as well. However, it is now believed to be extinct (Harrison 1968).
The wild goat ranges widely in Turkey, east from the Datca peninsula, through the Taurus and Anti-Taurus mountains in the mountainous regions of southeastern, eastern and northeastern Anatolia (Kence 1987).
The Turkmen wild goat (C. a. blythi [= turcmenica]), occurs in scattered populations in the central Kopet Dagh along the border between Turkmenistan and Iran between about 37Â°20?N, 55Â°20?E and 38Â°N, 57Â°20?E, and in the Large Balkhan (Bolshye) north of Nebit Dagh about 39Â°30?N, 50Â°30?E. It is not known whether this subspecies still inhabits the Small Balkhan (Malye).
Habitat and Ecology
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
No estimate of numbers available, but the species is probably now very rare in this country.
It inhabits mainly forested habitat, so accurate censuses are difficult to make. The total population estimate for wild goat was between 3,500 and 4,000 individuals in the late 1980s, with 1,500 in the Greater Caucasus (Arabuli 1989; Bathiyev 1989; Prilutskaya and Pishvanov 1989) and the rest in the Caucasus Minor, where more than half (1,000 to 1,250) lived in the southern half of the Zangezur range (Kuliyev 1981). At the end of 1990s, 2,500 animals were estimated for Daghestan alone (Nasrulayev, 2003), but numbers were declining rapidly, by 50% in three years (Magomedov, Omarov, Nasrulayev, 2001). The overall population trend for this subspecies is negative, and in recent years the rate of decline has increased.
No estimates of total numbers are currently available. However, 1991 estimates are available for Golestan National Park - 2,500 animals, and for Alborz-Markazy Protected Area - 4,000 animals.
There are no population estimates, but the species is probably extremely rare, if it survives at all.
For C. a. blythi there is no overall population estimate. Most survive in small inaccessible areas in isolated populations (Virk 1991). However, reasonable numbers are reported for the Dhrun and Hingol areas (Ahmad and Beg 1989). Kirthar National Park probably contains the largest population of Sind wild goat in the country. In the Karchat Mountains, which are withinf Kirthar National Park, the population has increased from between 400 and 500 when the establishment park was established in 1973 (Schaller and Laurie 1974) to around 950 to 1,050 (Bollmann 1989). For the whole Park, Mirza and Asghar (1980) estimated a total of 1,480 goats, while Kermani and Khan (1985) gave an optimistic number of 4,000 animals. According to Bollmann?s (unpubl. data) observations in 1987, the total population inhabiting the Park was between 1,500 and 2,000 goats. The adjacent Surjan-Sumbak-Eri-Hothiano Game Reserve contained another 900 to 1,100 (Mirza and Asghar 1980), resulting in a total estimate of 2,400 to 3,100 wild goat for Sind Province. Depending on the study area, densities ranged between 0.5 to 0.65 animals/kmÂ² (over 3,087 kmÂ² in Kirthar National Park; Bollmann, unpubl. data) and 11.8 to 16.3 animals/kmÂ² (over 60 kmÂ² in Karchat Mountains; Edge and Olsen-Edge 1990). However, the overall density within the species? distribution area in Pakistan is probably well below 0.5 wild goat/kmÂ². For C. a. chialtanensis the single population totalled ca. 168 animals in 1975 (Mirza 1975). Due to rigid protection following establishment of the National Park in 1980, the population had increased to 480 animals by 1990 (Baluchistan Forest Dept. Records, cited in Virk 1991) but this improvement may not have continued. There is an urgent need to updated information on the abundance of the wild goat in Pakistan.
It is declining in Turkey throughout its range, and the total population is believed to be less than 10,000 mature individuals, with no subpopulation larger than 1,000 mature individuals.
Korshunov (1986), whose data are the most reliable, estimated that the total population was up to 7,000 animals.
Overhunting and colonisation of their habitat by livestock resulted in depleted numbers prior to 1979, with small bands of wild goats forced into the most inaccessible parts of the mountain ranges.
Main threats in the Greater Caucasus are poaching and logging, since animals are mostly confined to forested areas. In the Caucasus Minor, there is also competition with livestock. The state of war between Azerbaijan and Armenia has a negative impact upon the main local populations of the wild goat.
Poaching, competition for food with domestic livestock, and disturbance and habitat loss from logging and land clearing, are major threats.
The extinction of wild goat in Lebanon was caused by large scale habitat destruction and the disregard of hunting regulations.
Within its range, the species is only locally abundant and under successful protection only in a few areas (e.g., in Sind Province). Most of the animals are in scattered populations on mountain ranges isolated from each other by lowlands. Consequently, they are at risk, especially because local people and nomadic tribes graze their domestic stock on most of the mountain ranges used by wild goats, and because hunting is still widespread.
Extinction was probably caused by habitat destruction and hunting.
It is declining in Turkey principally due to over-hunting.
Reconnaissance surveys were conducted to evaluate the species? distribution patterns in the mid 1970s. The work was discontinued after the start of the civil war. Surveys to determine the current status and distribution of the species in the country and to develop conservation strategies.
Former Soviet Union
C. a. aegagrus is protected by law, and was included in Category II in the Red Data Book of the USSR (Borodin 1984), Georgia (1982) and Russia (1983). No more than 200 occur in at least three protected areas. The wild goat is found in Tushetian Reserve in the Greater Caucasus, and in the Caucasus Minor, in the Geigel (Azerbaijan) and the Khosrov (Armenia) Nature Reserves (Sokolov and Syroyechkovsky 1990). It also occurs in Ordubad Sanctuary (Nakhichevan), and periodically in ShikakhokhNature Reserve (Armenia). Turkmen wild goat (C. a. blythi [= turcmenica]) is also protected. It was included in Class II in the USSR Red Data Book (Borodin 1984). Kopet Dagh Nature Reserve is the only protected area with this subspecies. The Turkmenistan Government planned to allow hunts for 20 goats in 1993-94; the current licensed hunting situation is not clear. Throughout its range in the former Societ Union, more strict and effective measures are needed to control of poaching. Most local people in the Caucasus consider wild goats and other species as a source of meat, hides and horns, so stricter prohibition measures alone will not be sufficient. Public awareness programmes are also needed. It is essential to protect the forest habitat of this in Daghestan and elsewhere in the Caucaus. An Ordubad National Park has been established on the southern flank of Zangezur Ridge in Nakhichevan (Caucasus Minor) in an important site for the species. At least two new protected areas are needed, one in western Daghestan, and the other in the Large Balkhan. In Turkmenistan, the wild goat should be re-introduced into the Siunt-Khasardag Nature Reserve in the western Kopet Dagh, and into the Badkhyz Nature Reserve in the Gyaz-Gedyk range.
The wild goat occurs in several protected areas where hunting is prohibited and livestock grazing is strictly controlled. It is found in seven National Parks, 11 Wildlife Refuges, and 34 Protected Areas throughout the country. They can be hunted under licence outside protected areas between September and February each year, but more strict enforcement of hunting regulations is needed.
Surveys are needed to determine the status and distribution of this species, and in particular whether or not any populations remain in the country.
A captive breeding plan and subsequent re-introduction program has been proposed, in conjunction with one in Syria.
In addition to the Kirthar and Hazarganji-Chiltan National Parks, there are several reserves providing different levels of protection to wild goats in the country, but for many, no management plans have been developed and most lack even supervisory staff (Virk 1991). Protected areas with Sind wild goat include: Baluchistan - Las Bela District: Hingol National Park, Dureji Wildlife Sanctuary, Khurkhera Wildlife Sanctuary (Baluchistan Forest Department 1990); Khuzdar District: Dhrun National Park (Baluchistan Forest Department 1990); Chorani Wildlife Sanctuary (Zoological Survey Department, no date); Gwadar District: Buzi Makola Wildlife Sanctuary (Zoological Survey Department, no date); Kharan District: Ragai Rakshan Wildlife Sanctuary, Ras Koh Wildlife Sanctuary (Baluchistan Forest Department 1990); Ras Koh Wildlife Sanctuary (Zoological Survey Department, no date); Chagae District: Gut Wildlife Sanctuary (Baluchistan Forest Department 1990). Kalat District: Koh-Egish Wildlife Sanctuary (Zoological Survey Department, no date); Dadu District: Kirthar National Park, Sumbak-Surjan-Eri-Hothiano Game Reserve (Mirza and Asghar 1980). A wildlife management plan for Kirthar National Park (Holloway and Khan 1973) recommended: 1) no extension of irrigated cultivation, 2) reduction of livestock grazing by the locals and immigrants, and 3) prohibition of tree felling, cutting branches for livestock fodder, poaching, stone quarrying and honey collection within the park. This plan is currently being revised. The world?s last remaining population of Chiltan goat is restricted to Hazarganji-Chiltan National Park (Quetta District; Zoological Survey Department, no date) where ca. 480 animals lived in 1990 (Forest Service reports cited in Virk 1991). Previous efforts to protect this Park included more administrative staff, control of livestock grazing, wood cutting, poaching, and construction of ca. 30 km boundary fence. This resulted in a marked recovery of the vegetation and an increase in the Chiltan goat population prior to 1990 (Baluchistan Forest Department Records, cited in Virk 1991). However, there are reports that conditions have recently deteriorated in this National Park. Conservation measures proposed for the species as a whole in Pakistan are as follows: 1) Implement the management ecommendations for Kirthar National Park. 2) Consider alternative livelihoods for the people who would be displaced by implementation Kirthar National Park?s management plan. 3) Develop a range management program for the Park based upon a system of zones of varying use-intensity by humans and livestock. 4) Implementation of such restrictions on the human population, must be accompanied not only by some form of compensation, but also include responsible involvement of the local community in conservation and agricultural programs. Virk (1991) emphasised the importance of participation of the local communities in the wildlife conservation process and gave a list of objectives for a local participatory approach, as well as a list of management goals. 5) Determine the current distribution and status of this species, and assess the remaining habitat before launching any further wild goat conservation projects in the Province of Baluchistan. 6) Consider implementing Virk?s (1991) three proposals for Hazarganji-Chiltan National Park: a) Enlarge the area of Hazarganji-Chiltan National Park by including the adjacent Kerkhasa State Forest (Ahmad 1988, cited in Virk 1991) to support any increase in the Chiltan goat population. b) Reintroduce and manage at least one herd of Chiltan goat in a formerly inhabited mountain range (e.g. Murdar, Koh-i-Maran). Such re-introductions would provide ways of presenting wildlife conservation to the public, and involve the local people in the conservation program. Natural dispersal from Hazarganji-Chiltan National Park to neighbouring mountain areas can be expected only over the long term and even then only with a high population density within the Park. c) Stop allowing hunters to take animals from the last population of Chiltan goat. Only when viable populations have been built up outside the National Park, could a trophy hunting program be considered as a possible means of generating funds for further conservation efforts. If conditions have deteriorated and the Park?s effectiveness has declined since 1990, obviously steps should be taken immediately to deal with the problems.
The proposed joint re-introduction project with Lebanon should be implemented.
Much stricter conservation measures are needed to control hunting, and especially to secure the future of the larger populations.
In the wild, goats live in herds of up to 500 individuals; males are solitary. Female goats go through a period called estrus, when they are ready to reproduce. Collectively for males and females, this means they are in a period of the breeding cycle called rut, when they are ready to mate. During the rut old males drive younger males from the maternal herds. The gestation period averages 170 days. Does (females) usually give birth to one kid. Kids can follow the mother goat almost immediately after birth. Kids are weaned after 6 months. Female goats reach sexual maturity at 1½–2½ years, males at 3½–4 years. The lifespan of a goat can be from 12 to 22 years.
The domestic goat has become established in some areas in the wild as a feral animal. In habitats not adapted to their presence they can cause serious environmental problems.
- Capra aegagrus aegagrus (Bezoar ibex)
- Capra aegagrus blythi (Sindh ibex)
- Capra aegagrus chialtanensis (Chiltan ibex)
- Capra aegagrus cretica (Kri-kri)
- Capra aegagrus hircus (domestic goat)
- Capra aegagrus turcmenica (Turkmen wild goat)
- Capra aegagrus pictus
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