Forest, Wildlife & Environment Department Government of Gilgit-Baltistan
About Blue Sheep
Despite their name, blue sheep are neither blue nor sheep: they are slate-grey to brownish and closer to the goats than to the sheep, as morphological, behavioural, and molecular analyses have shown. Blue sheep are sexually dimorphic, with males larger than females. Adult males have rather large, backward-sweeping horns, whereas females have very small horns. They are not present in the Park but they may migrate into it..
The blue sheep or bharal (Pseudois nayaur) is an intermediate mammalian species between the goat
and sheep, which live in large groups above the tree line at altitudes ranging from 3,500 m to 5,500 m in areas that have gentle slopes covered with grasses and sedges.
This is the only abundant wild sheep in northern Pakistan and is considered primary prey for the snow
leopards. They are coveted trophies for hunters whose license fees help impoverished communities, who, in turn, help conserve biodiversity. Thus, their long-term survival is not only important for preserving nature but also helps sustain local human populations. SLF’s recent study estimates 6,500 km area to be suitable habitat for the species, comprising 9% of Gilgit-Baltistan. The major stronghold of the habitat is in the Karakoram-Pamir range that falls in the Hunza district. Annual precipitation means the temperature of the wettest quarter, and temperature seasonality is the key. However, under changing climate scenarios, the species will lose up to 50% of its habitat under extreme green-house trajectories.
The Karakoram-Pamir ranges where species live; are relatively resilient to climate change. The Khunjerab National Park and western parts of Central Karakoram National Park are expected to provide climate refugia to this iconic species.
Threats: climate change, livestock grazing, tourism, hunting and pouching