Conservation status

Nineteen species are considered threatened in the 2002 IUCN Red List. The Walia ibex (Capra walie) is Critically Endangered. Its population is estimated to have decreased from 400 in 1983 to 180 in 1996. Six species are Endangered, including two species of tahr. Nilgiri tahr (Hemitragus hy-locrius) and Arabian tahr (H. jayakari) have small populations and limited geographic ranges. West Caucasian tur (Capra caucasica) is restricted to a small area of the western Caucasus, while Nubian ibex (Capra nubiana) and markhor (Capra falconeri) have suffered heavily from indiscriminate hunting. Dwarf blue sheep (Pseudois schaeferi) also has a very restricted distribution in the gorge of the upper Yangtze. Six of the subspecies listed in the 2002 Red List were Critically Endangered, and 15 are Endangered. Serow, Arabian tahr, Walia ibex, and several Caprinae subspecies are listed as Endangered by the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The greatest recent threat to wild Caprinae has been uncontrolled hunting, a factor that intensified sharply during the twentieth century with the introduction of powerful and accurate modern weapons and improved vehicle transport. Indiscriminate hunting has adversely affected all species, driving several towards extinction, wiping out many small populations, and reducing ranges. Other factors with a negative impact include increasing competition with livestock, loss of habitat, fragmentation of isolated populations, and road building that improves access to remote mountain areas. These must also have caused the loss of genetic diversity in most species, to a greater or lesser extent.

For many species, accurate population estimates and range details have not been established, especially for forest living species, and assessments of conservation status have to be based on partial information. At the end of 2002, Arabian tahr numbered around 2,000 and Nilgiri tahr fewer than 2,500. Strict legal protection and reintroductions in the United States and Canada have halted or reversed declines and increased mountain sheep populations by almost 50% in a quarter of a century. The Japanese government gave the Japanese serow special protected status in 1955, and its numbers increased from 2,000-3,000 at that time to about 100,000 at the end of 2002.

Introductions and reintroductions have also been successful in redressing declining situations, for example, with the muskox. Alpine ibex were hunted out in Europe by 1850, except for one herd in the Gran Paradiso area of Italy. Animals from this source have since been reintroduced to many parts of their former range in Switzerland, France, and Austria, and

Domestic sheep (Ovis aries) live throughout the world in association with humans. (Photo by Hans Reinhard/OKAPIA/Photo Researchers, Inc. Reproduced by permission.)

these are now thriving. Many protected areas contain important populations of Caprinae and some have been established to conserve remnant populations. The surviving population of Walia ibex lives in Simien National Park. Wadi Sareen Tahr Reserve in Oman was established to protect Arabian tahr, and Eravikulam National Park in India contains the largest remaining population of Nilgiri tahr.

Innovative schemes to restore old strip mining sites in Canada have created new habitat for bighorn sheep, leading to dramatic increases in numbers, doubling of body mass in females over a period of 15 years, and big increases in male body sizes, including new record horns. The areas have also been colonized by many other large mammal species, and numbers of nesting birds have risen steadily. Well-managed sport hunting programs have also helped to conserve Capri-nae populations.

Hunting Mastery Selected Tips

Hunting Mastery Selected Tips

Deer hunting is an interesting thing that reminds you of those golden old ages of 19th centuries, where a handsome hunk well equipped with all hunting material rides on horse searching for his target animal either for the purpose of displaying his masculine powers or for enticing and wooing his lady love.

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