Overview

Distribution

Range Description

This species is endemic to the eastern part of the Great Caucasus along the borders of Russia, Georgia and Azerbaijan between 800 and 4,000 m asl. Its range begins around the headwaters of the Baksan river east of Mount Elbrus (about 43ºN, 43ºE) and stretches for some 600 km eastward along both slopes of the Greater Caucasus to Babadagh mountain (41ºN, 48ºE) (Kuliyev, 1981; Tsalkin, 1955). The distribution is widest (up to 70 km) in Daghestan (Magomedov, Akhmedov and Yarovenko, 2001), being most narrow in North Ossetia (ca. 12 km) (Weinberg, 2002).
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Geographic Range

East Caucasian turs (Capra caucasica cylindricornis) are found along the Greater Caucasus mountain range. The eastern part of their range is well defined by Babadagh Mountain in Azerbaijan, but the western boundary is less definite. The southern portion of their range extends to the area of the headwaters of the Inguri River. In the north, the species ranges to Bezengi Cherek River or perhaps to the headwaters of the Malka River in the Elbrus Mountain massif. The total length of the range of the East Caucasian turs is about 500 km, if measured to Benzengi Cherek River. The distribution has changed little since the 19th century, when it was slightly wider, encompassing peripheral mountain ranges, more distant from the Main Watershed Range and the Side Range.

Biogeographic Regions: palearctic (Native )

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Physical Description

Morphology

Physical Description

Capra caucasica cylindricornis displays marked sexual dimorphism in size, pelage and horn development. Females have a body length of 138 cm, shoulder height of 85 cm, and, weight of 56 kg. Males have a body length of 190 cm, shoulder height of 104 cm, and weight of 140 kg. The tail length is 11 to 15cm for both sexes.

The coat in males varies seasonally, from chestnut-brown with lighter underparts in the winter to an overall lighter rusty-brown color in the summer. The coat of females, juveniles, and yearlings is the same year round.

East Caucasian turs have a body that is thick and stout and supported by short legs. Like most goats, a beard is found on males and is most noticeable when these animals display their winter pelage. Unlike other goats, the skull of East Caucasian turs does not have a bulge on the forehead below the horns. The horn base is cyndrical, and the horns curve up and out from the forehead and then slightly down and inward curling at the tips. Female horns grow to 20 to 22 cm whereas males grow to 70 to 90 cm in length.

East Caucasian turs differ from other species of Caprids by having much shorter beards. They also lack the stripes on their forelegs that are typical of Siberian ibex, Nubian ibex, and wild goat.

The winter color of male C. caucasica cylindricornis is brown, helping to distinguish them from males in other populations of Capra caucasica, which are grayish-yellow at that time of year. Alpine ibex (Capra ibex) are also similar to C. caucasica cylindricornis. These animals have a similar color coat and a short beard, but can be easily distinguished from C. caucasica cylindricornis by differences in their horns. West Caucasian turs (C. caucasica caucasica) are smaller and less massive than East Caucasian turs (C. caucasica cylindricornis).

Range mass: 56 to 140 kg.

Range length: 138 to 190 cm.

Other Physical Features: endothermic ; homoiothermic; bilateral symmetry

Sexual Dimorphism: male larger; sexes colored or patterned differently; sexes shaped differently; ornamentation

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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
Eastern tur inhabit elevations between 1,000 and 4,000 m asl. Although the mountains in their range can reach 5,000 m asl, tur seldom rise above 3,500 m asl. They live in forests found up to 2,600 meters, and in subalpine and alpine meadows and rocky talus slopes at higher elevations. Animals avoid thick forests on gentle slopes, but stay readily in open forests growing on steep precipitous slopes. In winters, proportion of animals dwelling below timberline increases (Veinberg, 1984). On average, 34% of eastern tur lived in the forest throughout the year in Georgia (Ekvtimishvili, 1952). Some forest-dwelling populations in Azerbaijan are completely isolated from subalpine and alpine zones (Vereshchagin, 1938; P. Weinberg pers. comm.) In summer, adult males typically inhabit higher altitudes than females and young (Veinberg, 1984). During the region's harsh winters, tur concentrate on sunny slopes; during the summer, animals expand their distribution to slopes of different exposures (Veinberg, 1984; Zalikhanov, 1967; Magomedov, Akhmedov, Yarovenko, 2001). Seasonal migrations rarely exceed 5 km (Veinberg, 1984; Zalikhanov, 1967).

Animals form mixed, adult male-female groups in November, just prior to rut. These disband by mid-January or the beginning of February at the latest, and adult males and females live separately until the next rutting season (Veinberg, 1984). Females give birth predominantly to just one kid (Veinberg, 1984). Proportion of kids may exceed 20% in Azerbaijan (Kuliev, 1981) and Daghestan (Magomedov, Akhmedov, Yarovenko, 2001), but reach only 16,5% in North Ossetia, while yearlings make above 7% there (Veinberg, 1984). Sex ratio favours males in protected populations (Weinberg, 2002). Yearly changes of overall group size depends on the reproductive cycle. Rugged and precipitous terrain reduces group size (Veinberg, 1984; Weinberg, 2002). Mean group size also correlates with population density (Magomedov, Akhmedov, Yarovenko, 2001). Overall mean group size is below 10 in North Ossetia (Veinberg, 1984), but reached ca. 78 in Azerbaijan (Kuliev, 1981). Average population density varies from 0.15 to 17 animals/km² (Weinberg, 2002). Eastern tur consume 256 plant species in Daghestan (Abdurakhamanov, 1977). Eastern tur coexist with chamois (Rupicapra rupicapra) on the northern slope in the Central Caucasus and on the southern slope in the Eastern Caucasus (mainly Azerbaijan), but the latter is much less numerous; in Daghestan and Chechnya, it is sympatric with the wild goat (Capra aegagrus) which dominates in the forest but seldom rises above timberline (Weinberg, 2002).

Systems
  • Terrestrial
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Capra caucasica cylindricornis is found at elevations from 1,000 to 4,000 m, in forest, and alpine areas. However areas over 3,500 m are rarely visited. East Caucasian turs migrate from lower elevations during the winter into higher elevations during the summer. Females prefer to live in the forests whereas males prefer to live in the open grasslands.

Range elevation: 1500 to 1700 km.

Habitat Regions: temperate ; terrestrial

Terrestrial Biomes: tundra ; savanna or grassland ; forest ; mountains

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Trophic Strategy

Food Habits

East Caucasian turs graze primarily on grass and shrubs. Grasses are eaten in autumn and begining of winter. Low shrubs such as Vaccium myrtillus are essential to East Caucasian turs in winter. Euonymus, Pinus, Rosa, and Salix are preferred browse.

Plant Foods: leaves; roots and tubers; wood, bark, or stems

Primary Diet: herbivore (Folivore )

  • Parker, S., S. Parker. 1990. East Caucasian Tur. Pp. 512-513 in Grzimek's Encyclopedia of Mammals, Vol. 5. New York: McGraw-Hill.
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Associations

Ecosystem Roles

East Caucasian turs are herbivores that change the floral composition and diminish productivity of their feeding areas. They also use mineral licks. East Caucasian turs share their range with Chamois and may be the limiting factor in this species range. They appear to be sympatric with red deer.

As a prey species, C. caucasica cylindricornis is likely to influence populations of its predators.

Capra caucasica cylindricornis provides habitat for a variety of parasites. They are known to be infected by tapeworms, flukes, 29 species nematodes, lice, ticks, and larvae of gadfly.

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Predation

Young East Caucasian turs mature quickly and are able to run soon after birth. East Caucasian turs live in groups to help protect them from predators. They do not appear to have a very good alarm call. The alarm call is a sharp hissing whistle that is hard to hear. Natural predators include wolves.

Known Predators:

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Known predators

Capra cylindricornis is prey of:
Lynx lynx
Canis lupus

This list may not be complete but is based on published studies.
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Life History and Behavior

Behavior

Communication and Perception

East Caucasian turs have a variety of vocalizations. They have an alarm call that is a sharp and hissing whistle. Also females and kids bleat to each other. Males mark areas during the rutting season by debarking trees by rubbing their horns on the trunk and marking by rub against the bare place with postcornal area. These markings do not appear to be territorial, but only for identification purposes. LIke other mammals, there is tactile communication during agonistic encounters, as well as between individuals in a reproductive context.

Communication Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic ; chemical

Other Communication Modes: scent marks

Perception Channels: visual ; acoustic

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Life Expectancy

Lifespan/Longevity

East Caucasian turs live up to 15 years in the wild and up to 22 years in captivity.

Average lifespan

Status: wild:
15 years.

Average lifespan

Status: captivity:
22 years.

Average lifespan

Status: wild:
10 years.

Average lifespan

Status: captivity:
15 years.

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Lifespan, longevity, and ageing

Maximum longevity: 20.2 years (captivity) Observations: Most animals in the wild do not live more than 10 years, though a maximum longevity of 22 years has been suggested as possible (Ronald Nowak 1999). Record longevity in captivity is 20.2 years (Richard Weigl 2005).
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Reproduction

East Caucasian turs breed seasonally in December or January. Males and females live separtedly except during the breeding season when males come down from the higher elevations to breed. Adult males fight furiously against each other for access to females. Females can also be violent during this time, chasing younger males away if they try to breed. Young males do not attempt to breed until after adult males have done so.

Mating System: polygynandrous (promiscuous)

East Caucasian turs breed in December or January, depending on where they are located in the species range. Females give birth to one and rarely two young per breeding season. The gestation period is 150 to 160 days. The young begin to eat grasses in July. Weaning begins in December, by which time the young have been grazing for several months.

Age of sexual maturity in males is between four and six years. Females are sexually mature by four years of age, however yearling females may also breed.

Females isolate themselves before birth and keep their young hidden for 3 to 4 days after birth. Females form incoherent groups of approximatedly a dozen individuals.

Home ranges of males overlap those of females, but males are highly territorial with other males during the breeding season.

Breeding interval: East Caucasian turs breed once per year.

Breeding season: Breeding occurs in December or January.

Range number of offspring: 1 to 2.

Average number of offspring: 1.2.

Range gestation period: 5 to 5.33 months.

Range weaning age: 1 to 2 months.

Average time to independence: 18 months.

Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female): 2 to 4 years.

Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female): 4 years.

Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male): 4 to 6 years.

Key Reproductive Features: iteroparous ; seasonal breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); fertilization ; viviparous

As is the case for most mammals, parental care is primarily a female occupation. Mothers provide their young with milk, grooming, and protection. Time to weaning is 2 to 3 months, but young stay with their mother for about a year. Male parental care has not been reported for this species.

Parental Investment: no parental involvement; altricial ; pre-fertilization (Protecting: Female); pre-hatching/birth (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Female); pre-weaning/fledging (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Female); pre-independence (Protecting: Female); post-independence association with parents

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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
NT
Near Threatened

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2008

Assessor/s
Weinberg, P.

Reviewer/s
Festa-Bianchet, M. & Harris, R. (Caprinae Red List Authority)

Contributor/s

Justification
Listed as Vulnerable because the population size might not be much great than 10,000 mature individuals (it could be as low as 12,000 mature individuals), and a decline of >10% over the next three generations (estimated at 21 years) is possible. Almost qualifies as threatened under criterion C1.

History
  • 1996
    Vulnerable
  • 1994
    Rare
    (Groombridge 1994)
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East Caucasian turs are listed as vulnerable in IUCN. This is due to habitat destruction, and over hunting.

US Federal List: no special status

CITES: no special status

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Population

Population
Following a period of increase between the 1940s and 1960s numbers have since declined. In the late 1960s and early 1970s the total number was estimated to be between 25,000 to 30,000 animals (Kuliyev, 1981; Ravkin, 1975), but by the late 1980s had declined by >30% to between 18,000 and 20,000 head, of which ca. 2,000 occurred in Georgia (Weinberg et al., 1997). Magomedov, Akhmedov and Yarovenko (2001) suggest that there are up to 20,000 tur in Daghestan alone, but this may be optimistic. The latest data suggest that there are no less than 4,000 animals in three Georgian Nature Reserves alone: Kazbegi, Tusheti and Lagodekhi (NACRES, 2006), probably with few tur remaining outside. An estimate of 3,000 tur reported in Kazbegi Nature Reserve might be twice too much (P. Weinberg pers. comm.). In Russia, besides Daghestan, there are about 800 tur in North-Ossetian Nature Reserve (Mallon, Weinberg and Kopaliani, 2007), and about 7,000 animals in Kabardin-Balkaria (Akkiyev and Pkhitikov, 2007) (though the taxonomic status of this latter population remains unclear).

Population Trend
Decreasing
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Threats

Major Threats
Livestock grazing and poaching are the major threats to the eastern tur, combined with the impacts of severe winters. Poaching is probably the most significant cause of the recently observed serious declines. Livestock grazing results in competition for resources, especially with domestic sheep and goats. The species is also impacted by habitat loss and degradation (Weinberg et al., 1997).
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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
It is included in Category III in the Georgian Red Data Book (1982). Hunting, including hard currency foreign trophy hunting, is forbidden in Georgia, but is permitted under license in Azerbaijan and Russia. This species of tur is found in several Nature Reserves: 5,200 in Kabardin-Balkarian (Russia), 800 in North-Ossetian (Russia), 700 in Lagodekhi (Georgia), and 2,000 in Zakatala (Azerbaijan). Other protected areas with this species include Tushetian and Kazbegi Nature Reserve (Georgia), and Ilisu Nature Reserve with Kakh sanctuary and Ismailly Nature Reserve together with a sanctuary of the same name, and the newly founded Shakhdagh National Park (Azerbaijan). Of these, tur receive effective protection in Kabardin-Balkarian, North-Ossetian, Lagodekhi and Zakatala Nature Reserves. Conservation measures proposed include: 1) create new reserves, particularly in Daghestan on the border with Georgia and Azerbaijan neighboring with Lagodekhi and Zakatala Nature Reserve respectively; 2) strictly enforce protection measures outside the four-month hunting season; if controls are successful and the population responds, then 3) consider the possibility of increasing the annual hunting quota.
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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

East Caucasian turs compete with livestock raised by the local people.

Negative Impacts: crop pest

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Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Traditional use of hide and wool has been abandoned, but horns of East Caucasian turs are still valuable and widely used. The horns are used for home decoration and are often mounted in silver as traditional cups for wine and beer.

Positive Impacts: food ; body parts are source of valuable material; ecotourism

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Wikipedia

East Caucasian tur

The East Caucasian tur or Daghestan tur (Capra caucasica cylindricornis) is a mountain-dwelling caprine found only in the eastern half of the Greater Caucasus mountains. East Caucasian turs live in rough mountainous terrain, where they eat mainly grasses and leaves and are preyed upon by wolves and lynxes. It is sometimes considered a subspecies of the West Caucasian tur, and sometimes as a full species in its own right.[1]

Description[edit]

East Caucasian turs are goat-like animals with large but narrow bodies and short legs, and show significant sexual dimorphism in overall size and horn development. Adult males stand about 105 cm (41 in) at the shoulder, measure 190 cm (75 in) in head-body length, and weigh around 140 kg (310 lb). The equivalent figures for adult females are 85 cm (33 in) for shoulder height, 138 cm (54 in) for head-body length, and just 56 kg (123 lb) for weight. Males have slightly lyre-shaped horns which reach 70 to 90 cm (28 to 35 in) in length, while in females they are typically only 20 to 22 cm (7.9 to 8.7 in) long.[2]

The summer coat is short and sandy-yellow, with dirty white underparts. There are also dark brown stripes along the front surface of the legs and on the upper surface of the tail. In the winter, the coat of females and juvenile males becomes slightly greyish in colour, but otherwise remains similar. However, the winter coat of adult males is a solid dark brown, without visible stripes on the legs. Males develop a beard with their winter coat in their second year, reaching the full length of about 12 cm (4.7 in) by their fourth or fifth year. Compared with other goats, the beard of East Caucasian turs is relatively stiff, and projects somewhat forwards, rather than drooping down. The beard is small or entirely absent in females, and in males in their summer coats.[2]

Distribution and habitat[edit]

The species range is restricted to the Greater Caucasus Mountains between 800 and 4,000 m (2,600 and 13,100 ft) above sea level, roughly extending from Mt. Shkhara (Georgia) in the west to Mt. Babadag (Azerbaijan) in the east. The western edge of the range of the East Caucasian tur remains unclear, as it overlaps with that of West Caucasian tur (Capra caucasica). Most of the species populations avoid human disturbance and occur in extremely rugged, open terrain around 3,000 m asl. In areas with no or little human disturbance, turs occur in gentler and much lower terrain. A fragment of a land with optimal terrain, climate, and degree of human disturbance for the species' occurrence is more likely to contain the species if the area of the fragment is larger and its distance to the species nearest source population is shorter.[3]

Reproduction[edit]

Breeding occurs from late November to early January, with births taking place in May and June, after a gestation period of 160 to 165 days. Newborn turs weigh 3.4 to 4.1 kg (7.5 to 9.0 lb); they are usually singletons, although about 3% of pregnancies result in twin births. Young turs are extremely agile, being able to scamper about steep slopes after only a day of life. They generally start sampling grasses after one month, but continue to suckle until about December. Growth is relatively slow, with females not reaching their dull adult size for five years, and males at around ten or eleven years of age. Females reach sexual maturity at two years, but, in the wild, usually do not breed until the age of four.[2]

East Caucasian turs are able to cross-breed with West Caucasian turs and with domestic goats, producing fertile offspring, although this is not common in the wild.[2]

Diet and behaviour[edit]

During the warm months, feeding occurs at intervals throughout the late afternoon, night, and morning, with the hottest hours of the day being spent resting in sheltered places. In winter, herds may remain in open pastures throughout the day, alternately grazing and resting. Daily movements may cover 15 to 20 km (9.3 to 12.4 mi). They eat almost all kinds of available vegetation, but prefer forbs in spring and summer, and grasses, trees, and shrubs in autumn and winter.[2]

There is a seasonal migration covering a vertical distance of 1,500 to 2,000 m (4,900 to 6,600 ft), with an upward thrust in May and a retreat downwards in October. The adult males generally inhabit higher altitudes than females and their young, descending to join them in the breeding season. During the summer, the turs also make daily migrations, moving as much as 1,000 m (3,300 ft) vertically between feeding meadows and night-time resting spots.[2]

During this rut, vigorous competitions arise as males vie for mating rights. Older males are dominant over younger individuals, which they drive away from females using threatening postures, rushing, and occasional clashes with their horns. Fights between equally sized males are fiercer, beginning with both animals rearing on their hind legs and butting each other, before vigorous horn-wrestling that often results in the combatants rolling down steep slopes until one submits and leaves the group. During the rut, males also mark their territory by de-barking and scent-marking tree trunks and heavy branches.[2]

Outside of the rutting season, females live in stable groups with an average of seven individuals, often including a few juvenile males. Older males live in larger, single-sex groups, with an average of twelve members, while some younger males travel in groups of two or three. These male groups break up around November, when the rut begins and mixed-sex groups become the norm, re-forming again in January of February.[2] In protected areas, the density of animals varies between 5 and 16 /km2 (13 and 41 /sq mi).

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Weinberg, P. (2008). Capra cylindricornis. In: IUCN 2008. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Retrieved 1 April 2009. Database entry includes a brief justification of why this species is of near threatened status.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Weinberg, P.J. (2002). "Capra cylindricornis". Mammalian Species: Number 695: pp. 1–9. doi:10.1644/1545-1410(2002)695<0001:CC>2.0.CO;2. 
  3. ^ Gavashelishvili, A. (2004). "Habitat selection by East Caucasian tur (Capra cylindricornis)". Biological Conservation 120 (3): 391–398. doi:10.1016/j.biocon.2004.03.014. 
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