Species / International Ovis
Rupicapra Budorcas Taxicolor
Eastern Tibet, Sikkim, Bhutan, northern Assam, northern Burma, and central and southern China.
Also known as “cattle chamois” and “gnu goat,” the takin has physical similarities to all of these animals. The body length of an adult male is between 210 and 220 cm, and a female is about 170 cm. The tail reaches about 15 cm, and is usually hidden under the thick, long, shaggy fur. The coat is whitish yellow to golden yellow to reddish brown, and has a dark stripe down the back. A male grows to stand about 120 cm at the shoulders, whereas a female is around 105 cm. The takin’s head is large with an arched muzzle and a broad, naked nose. The horns, which appear in both sexes, can be as long as 64 cm. They are “transversely ribbed” and start “near the midline of the head, abruptly turn outward, and then sweep backward and upward” (Nowak 1999, p.1215). The legs are short and have large, strong two-toed hooves with a highly developed spur. (Parker 1989, Nowak 1999, Minelli and Minelli 1997)*
This species is found in elevations from 1000 to 4250 meters. The habitat ranges from rocky, grass covered alpine zones to forested valleys. (Parker 1989)*
In the early days of the Capra “branch” of GSCO, there was discussion of including the takin on the Capra species list. After all, it lives in the mountains and has a slight resemblance to the American mountain goat. The proposal was quickly shot down.
It was pointed out by the opposition that takin taxonomy was also similar to both the Arctic muskox and the African gnu. Most takin are found in China, and it didn’t help that the official Chinese (pinyin) name for takin is “ling niu,” meaning “antelope cow.” In addition, until 16 years ago the scientific community lumped the muskox and takin together as Ovibovini, a rather exclusive club of which they were the only two members.
However, at the 2006 IUCN Caprinae Workshop, it was agreed that takin are related to Rupicapra and should be classified as Caprini. In light of this, GSCO is designating the takin as a member of its Capra species list. Having this category allows GSCO to recognize takin hunts taken by its members prior to China’s closure to international hunters. While there are four known subspecies, to our knowledge no living GSCO member has multiple subspecies. That fact, along with the takin’s current status as a non-huntable species, led to recognition being limited to one category, takin (Budorcas Taxicolor).
The four subspecies are:
1. The Golden (Shaanxi) takin found in China (Shaanxi, Gansu)
2. The Sichuan takin found in China (Sichuan, Yunnan, Gansu, Xizang)
3. The Mishmi takin found in China (Xizang, Yunnan), Myanmar, India (Arunachal Pradesh)
4. The White (Bhutan) takin found in China (Xizang), Bhutan, India (Arunachal Pradesh)
Most of the information contained here was found in the CIC Caprinae Atlas of the World, Volume II by Gerhard R. Damm and Nicholas Franco.
China shut down hunting in 2007, right before the start of the Beijing Summer Olympics. Now that Beijing’s Winter Olympics have just ended, it would be a pleasant surprise if things went full circle and hunting was once again part of the Chinese conservation program. Most likely this is just wishful thinking.
*Marceau, J. 2000. "Budorcas taxicolor" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed March 17, 2022 at https://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Budorcas_taxicolor/