Takin

Takin

Cattle chamois, Gnu goat

Kingdom
Phylum
Subphylum
Class
Order
Family
Subfamily
Genus
SPECIES
Budorcas taxicolor
Population size
Unknown
Life Span
16-20 yrs
WEIGHT
250-350 kg
HEIGHT
97-140 cm
LENGTH
160-220 cm

The national animals of Bhutan, the takin is a large, stocky hoofed mammal that sometimes is referred to as a goat antelope. Takins have short legs which are supported by large, two-toed hooves. Their large head is made more distinctive by its long, arched nose and stout horns, which are ridged at the base. These horns are present in both sexes and run parallel to the skull before turning upwards to a short point. The long, shaggy coat is light in color with a dark stripe along the back, and males also have dark faces. Their thick wool often turns black in color on their undersides and legs. The overall coloration ranges from dark blackish to reddish-brown suffused with grayish-yellow in the eastern Himalayas to lighter yellow-gray in the Sichuan Province to mostly golden or (rarely) creamy-white with fewer black hairs in the Shaanxi Province.

Distribution

Takins are found in the eastern Himalayas. They occur in China, Bhutan, India, and Myanmar. These animals live in various habitats ranging from forested valleys to rocky, grass-covered alpine zones.

Takin habitat map

Geography

Climate zones

Habits and Lifestyle

Takins are live in small family groups of around 20 individuals, although older males may lead a more solitary life. In the summer, herds of up to 300 individuals gather high on the mountain slopes where favorable feeding sites, salt licks, or hot springs are located. Takins are diurnal creatures feeding in the early morning and late afternoon. These animals may even stand on their hind legs to reach leaves that are over 3 m (10 ft) high. They spend the day in dense vegetation and come out into the open only on cloudy or foggy days. When takins are not feeding, they are usually resting. Each spring, takins gather in large herds and migrate up the mountains. During winter when food becomes scarce, takins moves down to lower, more forested and favor sunny spots upon sunrise. When disturbed, takins gives a 'cough' alarm call and the herd retreats into thick bamboo thickets and lies on the ground for camouflage.

Group name
Seasonal behavior

Diet and Nutrition

Takins are herbivorous (folivorous) animals. They feed on a variety of leaves and grasses, as well as bamboo shoots and flowers. Salt is also an important part of their diets, and groups may stay at a mineral deposit for several days.

Mating Habits

REPRODUCTION SEASON
July-August
PREGNANCY DURATION
8 months
BABY CARRYING
1 young
FEMALE NAME
cow
MALE NAME
bull
BABY NAME
kid

Little information is known about the mating system in takins. Breeding takes place in July and August. Adult males compete for dominance by sparring head-to-head with opponents, and both sexes use the scent of their own urine to indicate dominance. Females give birth to a single young after a gestation period of around eight months. The young start to follow their mother after 3 days of birth and are able to eat solid food when they are 1 or 2 months old. Takins reach reproductive maturity at the age of 30 months.

Population

Population threats

Main threats to takins include overhunting and the destruction of their natural habitat. Timber harvesting, farming, pasture burning, cane and bamboo cutting, road construction, all this have destroyed large areas of takin habitat. Disturbance from tourism, competition, and diseases from domestic livestock pose another serious threat to these animals.

Population number

According to the IUCN Red List, the total population size of the takin is unknown. However, there are estimated populations of the takin subspecies in the following areas: Golden takin in China - 5,069 individuals and Mishmi takin in Tibet - 3,500 individuals. Currently, this species is classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List and its numbers today are decreasing.

Fun Facts for Kids

  • Takins have an oily, strong-smelling substance secreted over the whole body. It is suggested that this is the reason for the swollen appearance of their face. Due to this feature, biologist George Schaller likened takins to a "bee-stung moose." Their combination of features has also earned them the nicknames "cattle chamois" and "gnu goat".
  • Takins sleep almost like dogs. They rest their head on top of their extended front feet.
  • Takins are considered national treasures in China.
  • If baby takin gets lost, it produces a call that sounds like a call of a lion cub. The mother will answer with a low, guttural call which helps the baby find a way back to her.

References

1. Takin on Wikipedia - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Takin
2. Takin on The IUCN Red List site - https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/3160/9643719

More Fascinating Animals to Learn About