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Barbary sheep

Alert

Have you seen Barbary sheep?

Be on the lookout for Barbary sheep and report it to Biosecurity Queensland. Early detection and reporting are the key elements in controlling Barbary sheep.

Call us on 13 25 23.

Native to North Africa, barbary sheep are stocky, heavy-built goat-like animals. Feral populations have established in North America and Spain. They are found in dry, rocky, mountainous areas and are very agile at jumping and climbing. They compete with cattle, goats and sheep for food.

The barbary sheep is a restricted invasive animal under the Biosecurity Act 2014.

Scientific name

Ammotragus lervia

Other names

  • Aoudad

Description

  • Stocky, heavy-built, goat-like animal with shoulder height 80-100cm, weighing from 40-14kg.
  • Legs are short.
  • Faces are long.
  • Coat is a sandy-brown colour, darkens with age. Darker line along the spine.
  • Coat is woolly in the winter, molts to a sleek fine coat in summer.
  • Underbelly is slightly lighter in colour.
  • Long vertical fringe of hair that goes from the throat down the upper part of the front legs is a distinctive feature.
  • Both sexes have horns that sweep backwards and outwards in an arch, triangular cross-section, up to 50cm long.
  • Male’s horn tend to be thicker than female’s.

Habitat

  • Prefers arid mountainous areas.
  • Able to get all their water requirements from their food.
  • Graze at dusk, dawn and during the night on a wide variety of grasses, flowers and shrubs.

Distribution

  • Not yet recorded in Queensland.

Life cycle

  • Live in small family groups usually having 1 dominant male for a group of females. The males will compete for breeding dominance but young and older males can live quite well in the same group.
  • Life expectancy up to 15-20 years in wild.
  • Mating can occur throughout year, usually peak between September-November.
  • Females are sexually mature at 18 months and produce 1-3 offspring per year.
  • Gestation is 160 days.
  • Young are weaned at 3-4 months.

Crops affected

  • Sorghum, millet, pasture, various cereal and pulse crops. Barbary sheep eat a wide variety of grasses, flowers, leaves and shrubs.

Impacts

Environmental

  • Can damage grassland ecosystems.
  • Can spread weed seeds.

Economic

  • Can compete with cattle, goats and sheep for food.
  • If established, control programs are costly and resource-intensive.

Social

  • Can be traffic hazard.
  • Can damage fences.
  • Can be a popular target for recreational hunting.

Control

Early detection is essential for preventing pest establishment. If you have seen or are in possession of a barbary sheep, please contact Biosecurity Queensland on 13 25 23.

Shooting

  • Shooting must be carried out by trained personnel with appropriate firearms licences. Shooters must possess necessary skill and judgment to kill barbary sheep with a single shot. Lactating females should not be targeted but, if they are inadvertently shot, young should be found and euthanased.

Trapping

  • Trapping may be an option for barbary sheep control in some circumstances. Simplest form involves self-mustering trap.
  • Traps must be monitored and barbary sheep promptly tranquillised or euthanased after trapping.

Legal requirements

  • This is a restricted invasive animal under the Biosecurity Act 2014.
  • It must not be kept, moved, fed, given away, sold, or released into the environment without a permit.
  • The Act requires that all sightings to be reported to Biosecurity Queensland within 24 hours.
  • By law, everyone has a general biosecurity obligation (GBO) to take all reasonable and practical steps to minimise the risk of barbary sheep escaping until they receive advice from an authorised officer.

Further information