Species / International Ovis

Transcaspian Urial

Ovis vignei arkal


Kazakhstan: The Ustyurt Plateau between the Caspian and Aral seas. Uzbekistan: Western. Turkmenistan: Kopet Dag Mountains in the southern areas along the border with Iran. Iran: From the Kopet Dag Range through the Khorasan Province in the northeast. Afghanistan: In the extreme northwest, bordering Iran and Turkmenistan. Boundaries to the east with the Afghan urial are undetermined.


Shoulder height up to 39 inches. Weight up to 200 pounds. A large, bright-colored, very handsome urial. Adult rams have a white bib and a long, white neck ruff; immature males have a smaller, dark neck ruff. Upper parts are uniformly tawny-brown. Rump patch, muzzle, belly and lower legs are white, and there is a darker stripe separating belly and upper body. No saddle patch, but some males have a dark shoulder spot in winter coat. The horns are rather long and homonymous, growing in a tight circle or forming an open spiral.


Considered by some to be the most beautiful of the world’s wild sheep. The reason for this is undoubtedly the long flowing neck bib and ruff. The TCU has also been called the “grandfather” of all sheep. Some believe this particular species is the one from which all others descended. Seeing how its distribution is near what is commonly called the “cradle of civilization”, we will not argue this point.

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