Red Goral

The red goral (Naemorhedus baileyi) is a species of even-toed ungulate in the Bovidae family. It is found in India, Tibet and Myanmar. Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical dry forests and subtropical or tropical dry lowland grassland. It is threatened by habitat loss.

The red goral is a bright foxy-red animal with long, soft, shaggy hair. A thin, dark stripe runs along the back from the head to the tip of the tail. The legs are the same rich red as the body, while the undersides are a lighter buff color. The black-colored tail is very short for a goral, but a long tuft of dark hair at the end may double its apparent length.

The red goral is easily distinguished from other members of the genus Naemorhedus by its reddish coat - all other gorals are greyish-brown with grizzled hairs. The red goral is also the smallest goral, and has a greater curvature to its horns. Both males and females have a pair of short, arcing horns. The horns of males tend to be longer and thicker than those of females, but lengths of 7.5–16 cm are typical for both sexes.

Red gorals are most active during the day, and tend to retreat to inaccessible cliffs at night, where they sleep on sheltered ledges. They are strong climbers and jumpers, and seek safety from predators by fleeing up cliffs. They can clear obstacles over 1.8 m high from a standing start. Although generally quiet, males make a call which sounds like "zer - zer" during the breeding season; female red gorals also whistle as males approach. Red gorals typically inhabit a home range of around 40 hectares. Males are territorial during the breeding season. Their diets consist of lichens, grasses, stems, and leaves.

Fewer than 10,000 red gorals are believed to survive today. The actual number may be quite less; fewer than 1,500 red gorals were thought to live in Tibet - the largest part of the species' range - in 1998. However, in Mishmi Hills, Arunachal Pradesh in northeastern India, it is among the relatively more abundant ungulates.

Their range is centered around the region where the borders of India, Tibet and Myanmar meet.

The red goral is geographically isolated, and the smallest of the presently recognized species. Body weights range from 20–30 kg, while the length of the head and body is around 100 cm. Records of captive animals show the females tend to be slightly larger than males, with otherwise very little difference between the sexes.

The generic name Naemorhedus is derived from the Latin words nemus (genitive nemoris), meaning "forest", and haedus, meaning a young goat.

This species is named after Lt Col F. M. Bailey, who explorer the "frontier region" extensively prior to the first World War. While he collected the brown type specimen for N. b. baileyi, he also made note of bright red goral-skin coats made by locals in the Mishmi Hills. The first "red" specimen was collected by the Earl of Cranbrook in upper Burma along with Captain F. Kingdon Ward in 1931. Although an unusual specimen, no formal description or name was given to this new red goral until 1961.

N. baileyi is primarily diurnal, with most activity occurring in the early morning and evening. During the day, red gorals graze on sunny slopes, retreating to rocky cliffs at night, where they bed down on sheltered ledges. As with most members of the Caprinae, red gorals are very agile and move with easy speed amongst rough terrain. A captive female in Rangoon Zoo was observed jumping over a 1.8-meter-high fence from a standing start. This species retreats up cliffs when threatened.

Red gorals are primarily solitary, although females tend to be accompanied by their latest youngster. N. baileyi is occasionally seen in small groups, typically with three animals. The composition of these groups is usually a male, a female, and her offspring, or a female with her offspring from the previous two years.

This species breeds from September to November. During the rut, males will follow females closely, being in frequent nasogenital contact (often accompanied by smelling and licking) to determine the onset of estrus. Nonreceptive females will either flee from the advances of males or threaten them by butting the bodies of the males with their heads. Receptive females tend to stand still as the male approaches, signalling their estrus by raising their tails. The Flehmen response (lip curl) was observed during the majority of encounters between a male and a receptive female.

This species is listed on Appendix I of CITES (2009). Their world population is estimated to be less than 10,000 animals, and is likely considerably less. From data collected in 1987 and 1988, the Tibetan population of this species was estimated to number between 810 and 1,370 animals. Numbers in India and Myanmar are unknown, but due to the restricted range of this species, they are unlikely to be common. Hunting is a major threat to the continued survival of this species; it is the most heavily harvested ungulate in its range. Habitat loss due to forestry practices and clearing for agriculture also poses a major threat. Red gorals inhabit several protected regions, including Hkakabo-Razi National Park in Myanmar, and Gangxiang, Muotuo, Xiaca, and Medoq in Tibet. A small captive-breeding group is kept in the Shanghai Zoo.

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