The aoudad is a strongly built animal, with a short mane on the neck and shoulders and long, flowing hair on the throat, chest, forelegs (where it forms pantaloons or chaps) and tail. Overall coloration is sandy-brown with the underparts paler. Biologists consider it biologically intermediate between a sheep and a goat. Like a goat, the aoudad has a subanal scent gland and its tail is longer than its ears, but it lacks preorbital, inguinal (groin) and interdigital glands. However, its chromosome number is 58, the same as in urials (other sheep vary from 52 to 56); whereas 60 is universal among goats. Aoudads will hybridize with domestic goats but not with sheep. The horns (both sexes) are sheep-like: smooth, thick, triangular in cross section, and curved to form a semicircle over the neck (supracervical). Females are much smaller than males, are lighter in color and have less hair and much smaller horns.
Arrui (Sp), Mähnenschaf (G), Mouflon à manchettes (F). “Aoudad” seems to be an anglicization of the Tunisian udad for this animal. “Barbary” is from the Berber (Arabic Barbar) people of northwestern Africa.
DESCRIPTION (male) Shoulder height 36-40 inches (91-102 cm). Weight 200-250 pounds (90-115 kg). Females are much smaller.
DISTRIBUTION Free-ranging in parts of Texas, New Mexico, California and Mexico. Also on private properties, mainly in Texas, but also in a number of other U.S. states.
Native to the desert mountains in the Sahara region of northern Africa. In 1924, aoudad were released on the Hearst Ranch-mostly unfenced-in San Luis Obispo County, California, and have since populated nearby areas, where they have been hunted without legal protection. Introduced in 1950 in the Canadian River Canyon in
New Mexico by the state game department, with hunting by drawn permit. Some of these animals have wandered as far as Colorado and Oklahoma. Also found in the wild in southeastern New Mexico, mainly as the result of escapes from private enclosures. Occurs in the wild in Palo Duro Canyon south of Amarillo, Texas, as a result of state-sponsored releases, also elsewhere in Texas from private releases. Released in the wild in several places in Mexico. The aoudad is a superb game animal, exceptionally challenging when free-ranging and difficult even where fenced.