This article is about the sheep. For other uses of the term, see Uriel (disambiguation).
Bukhara Urial (Ovis orientalis bochariensis) at Nordens Ark, Sweden
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Clade: Synapsida
Class: Mammalia
Order: Artiodactyla
Family: Bovidae
Subfamily: Caprinae
Genus: Ovis
Species: O. orientalis
Subspecies: O. o. vignei
Trinomial name
Ovis orientalis vignei
(Blyth, 1841)

The urial (Ovis orientalis vignei[2]), also known as the arkars or shapo, is a subspecies group of the wild sheep Ovis orientalis. Noticeable features are the reddish-brown long fur that fades during winter; males are characterized by a black ruff stretching from the neck to the chest and large horns. It is found in western central Asia. The other subspecies group of O. orientalis is the mouflon (Ovis orientalis orientalis group). The two groups have often been considered separate species.[3]

Physical characteristics

Urial males have large horns, curling outwards from the top of the head turning in to end somewhere behind the head; females have shorter, compressed horns. The horns of the males may be up to 100 cm (39 in) long. The shoulder height of an adult male urial is between 80 and 90 cm (31 and 35 in).


The urial is found in western central Asia from northeastern Iran and western Kazakhstan to Pakistan's Balochistan and Ladakh regions of North India. To the east it is replaced by the bigger argali and to the southwest by the Asiatic mouflon. Its habitat consists of grassy slopes below the timberline. Urials rarely move to the rocky areas of the mountains. For example, in northern Iran they produce hybrids with Asiatic mouflon under natural conditions. Urials feed mainly on grass but are able to eat leaves of trees and bushes if needed.

The conservation status of the urial is threatened as their habitat is perfectly suitable for human development; however the urial population has been recovering in recent years.

The Afghan urial found in Musakhel district in Surghar and Torghar. A 2005-2006 survey by WWF Pakistan shows 145 urials found in Surghar, Srakhowa District Musakhe. Yahay Musakhel et al. 2006)


The mating season begins in September. Rams (which live separately at other times) select four or five ewes, which will each give birth to a lamb after a gestation of five months.


Transcaspian arkals (O. o. arkal) at Pretoria Zoo

The vignei subspecies group consists of six individual subspecies:


  1. Valdez, R. (2008). "Ovis orientalis". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2008. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 5 April 2009. Database entry includes a brief justification of why this species is of vulnerable.
  2. ICZN (International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature) opinion 2027 Archived May 17, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
  3. Grubb, Peter (2005). Order Perissodactyla. Pp. 708-710 in: Wilson, Don E., and DeeAnn, M. (2005). Mammal Species of the World. A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference. 3d edition. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore. ISBN 0-8018-8221-4
  4. http://www.un.org.pk/undp/sgp/green-pioneers/chap-13.htm
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