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Sichuan Takin Facts | China Wildlife Guide

Geographic Range and Habitat

The species Budorcas taxicolor, or takin, is found in the forest valleys and rocky, alpine scrublands of China, Myanmar, Tibet, Bhutan, and northeast India at elevations of 3,300 to 13,900 feet.

Physical Characteristics

Takins, also known as “gnu goats,” are goat-antelopes in the subfamily Caprinae. Adult males are approximately seven feet long and four feet tall, while females are about five-and-a-half feet long and three-and-a-half feet tall. The takin’s thick shaggy coat nearly covers its six-inch tail. Coats range from pale yellow or golden to rusty brown in color and are marked with a dark stripe along the back. The large head of a takin has a long, broad nose and arched muzzle. Both males and females have horns which are ribbed at the base and curve upwards. Even-toed ungulates, their stocky legs have strong, massive hooves.

Reproduction

Breeding season lasts from early July to late August. Solitary, older males, will arrive at the herds to mate. The female’s gestation period is seven to eight months, and a single calf is born, weighing eleven to fifteen pounds. Within three days, calves are able to walk by their mothers’ sides, and they begin to eat solid food at one or two months old. Young become sexually mature at 30 months.

Behavior

In summer months, takins form large herds of up to 300 members at high elevations. During the winter, herds will separate and form groups of 20 individuals as they descend to lower, warmer regions.

Takins move slowly but can agilely leap from rock to rock on precarious slopes. The majority of their day is spent under dense underbrush, emerging to browse for food. Warning “coughing” noises alert members of the herd to danger, who then disperse to hide in thick vegetation. It is thought that takin spray their bodies with urine to communicate information to others. These pheromones may relate their identity and sexual status.

Feeding Habits

The herbivorous takin browses during the early morning and late afternoon, feeding on grasses, herbs and deciduous leaves. In winter, it eats twigs and the leaves of evergreen. The takin stands on its hind legs to browse for leaves and can knock over saplings four inches in diameter. These creatures journey long distances to find salt deposits and may remain in these mineral-rich areas for days at a time.

Conservation

Takins are considered endangered in China and are listed as Vulnerable by the IUCN due to poaching and loss of habitat. They are also preyed upon by wolves and bears.
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