Argali wild sheep | WWF
© Alexander Kreik / WWF-Russia

Argali wild sheep

The biggest of all wild sheep, the argali has suffered a major decline in population numbers and is particularly intolerant of human-induced changes.

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Key Facts
Common name
Common Name

Argali Wild Sheep



Near Threatened

(IUCN ver 3.1)
Latin name

Scientific Name

Ovis ammon



65 - 180 kg

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Under threat from human interference

The Argali faces particular threat from domesticated herds of sheep as they compete for grazing grounds.

Physical description

The Argali sheep is related to the universally known domestic sheep. It is approximately the same length as a domestic sheep but it is much taller and heavier than its domesticated relative.

Argali inhabit high altitude regions, usually 3,000-5,000 m. Habitat varies according to geographic location, but includes mountains, steppe valleys and rocky outcrops and open desert.

Their coat ranges from light yellow to darker grey-brown in colour. Face and underparts are lighter.

Argali males also have a whitish neck ruff and a dorsal crest. Whilst females also have horns, the male corkscrew horns are much bigger.

Weight: 65-180kg
Shoulder height: 90-120cm
Length: 120-200cm

10-13 years

The gestation period is 150-160 days, with litter size usually 1-2 lambs.

Biogeographic realm

Range States
Afghanistan, China, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Nepal, Pakistan, Russian Federation, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan

Geographical Location
Central and Southern Asian mountains

Ecological Region
Temperate Forests, Grasslands and Shrublands; Rocky areas and Cold desert

What are the main threats?

Main threats to Argali sheep come from humans and human activity. These include:
  • Over-hunting and poaching
  • Competition from introduction of domestic sheep
  • Disease transmission from domestic sheep
  • Habitat loss

Argali wild sheep are a priority species. WWF treats priority species as one of the most ecologically, economically and/or culturally important species on our planet. And so we are working to ensure such species can live and thrive in their natural habitats.

What is WWF doing?

WWF works with governments in all range states to ensure adequate protection measures are put into place for the argali wild sheep in an attempt to halt the significant decline in population numbers.

It supports projects which provide alternative livelihoods to local communties and aims to ensure habitat and grazing grounds are protected.

It also provides support to authorities seeking to improve regulation and monitoring of hunting. For example, WWF Mongolia worked with the government to produce a conservation management plan for the argali.

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Did you know?

  • Herds of Argali are usually of single sex. Male and female herds come together during mating season.
  • The gestation period in Argali is between 150 and 160 days
  • The horns of a mature Argali male can weigh 20 - 22 kg