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Gorals can be described as either large goats or small antelope, having characteristics of both. Their overall size and long, stout legs make them look somewhat like small antelope, but their long, shaggy coat, backward-curving, cylindrical, sharply pointed horns (present on both sexes), and concave face profile are more characteristic of goats. Adult males can be up to 4½ feet long and 2½ feet high at the shoulder and weigh up to 90 pounds; females are smaller. Color ranges from gray to brownish gray with a white patch on the throat.
Distribution and Habitat
The gray goral is found from northern Burma through the Himalaya and other mountain systems through China into Korea and far eastern Siberia at elevations of 3,300-13,500 feet, with Himalayan populations living at much higher elevations than those elsewhere. They prefer steep, mountainous habitats with evergreen and deciduous forests, but are also found on exposed grassy ridges.
Habits and Behaviors
Gorals live in small isolated populations. Ewes and juveniles form groups of up to a dozen individuals, but mature males are solitary outside of the breeding season. Groups inhabit an area of about 100 acres, and most individuals within a group will spend their entire lives within that area. The range of a solitary male may overlap that of more than one group, which helps prevent inbreeding.
Gorals are most active in the morning and evening, with the rest of the day spent resting on a rock ledge. Their coat color provides excellent camouflage, and, since they are able to lie motionless for long periods of time, gorals can be very difficult to spot, even when lying in plain sight.
Like most other animals native to mountainous regions, gorals are quite nimble and can move at high speeds across very rough and steep terrain.
The rams join the groups of ewes in the middle or end of September and return to their solitary lives after mating in early November. Whether males actively compete for females is unknown. One calf, rarely twins, is born after a gestation period of about 180 days. It takes about a year for the calf to become independent, and 2-3 years for it reach sexual maturity. The average lifespan of a goral in the wild is about fifteen years.
Gorals eat grasses, nuts, lichens, twigs, and some fruit, with specific diets varying by season.
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This page was last updated on May 23, 2017.