They have the horns of a musk ox, the build of an elephant, and the nose of a moose. On this Wildlife Wednesday, were learning about takins.
Pronounced talkin’ (like rockin’), these horned herd-dwellers are not nearly as well known as their closest cousin—the sheep. On this Wildlife Wednesday, let’s expand our animal knowledge and get talkin’ about the takin. (Sorry, I couldn’t help myself.)
Takin can be seen scrambling up and down the steep mountainous regions of Bhutan, China, northeast India, and northern Myanmar.
- These mighty mountain climbers are well known for their expert scaling abilities, and they regularly migrate from forested valleys to the meadows that rest above the region’s tree line—a journey with an altitude difference of almost 10,000 ft (3,000 m)!
- Picky eaters? Not so much. Takins will eat just about anything that they can get their tongues on, including bamboo, willow and pine bark, rhododendrons, and about 126 other types of plant.
- While herds may number up to 300 members during the food-rich summer months, these herds break up into groups of no more than 35 members when the winter weather makes food harder to come by. Talk about fair-weather friends!
- The colour of a takin’s coat can range anywhere from a drab yellow to a deep, dark brown. A gold takin pelt is thought to have inspired the mythological story of Jason and the Golden Fleece.
Why are they threatened?
Even though they’re protected by law in China, Bhutan, and India, they’re often hunted for sport and for meat. Habitat fragmentation due to logging and cane and bamboo harvesting is also a major concern, as fragmentation, beyond causing herds to become isolated, also causes a disruption or loss of migration routes.
Other threats include disease transmission from domestic herds and disruptions caused by tourist activities.
Fortunately, governments are taking action. Officials in Bhutan have proposed several conversation measures, including educating residents about the animals’ protected status, developing agreements between countries to enforce conservation, and finding and protecting the migration routes that crisscross the country.
In 2003, the Chinese government set aside land to create 14 nature reserves to protect the takin and their land. The latest surveys in China show that population numbers are actually increasing in some parts of the country.
And that is something to stomp our hooves about.