Takin is an amazing rare animal. At the same time, it looks like a mountain goat and a bull, but in fact it is an artiodactyl ruminant animal. It is difficult to name the closest relatives of takins – these animals are unique and original. Even their habitat is isolated protected areas, where takins are protected by the Red Book.

Origin of the species and description

Photo: Takin

Photo: Takin

Takin is a rare animal from the bovid family. These are artiodactyl ruminants, identified on the basis of the structure of the horns: in their structure, the horns of such animals are hollow, but at the same time strong due to the ribbing. The bovids also include the most common species: gazelles, antelopes, bison, bulls, goats and rams.

Four subspecies are distinguished among takins, which depend on their habitat:

  • Burmese subspecies;
  • golden takin;
  • Sichuan takin;
  • Bhutanese takin.

Video: Takin

Bovids are a rather large family, which includes various types of animals. Starting from the small dikdik antelope, which barely reaches a weight of 5 kg, ending with bison, whose weight can exceed a thousand kilograms. Takin also stands out from the bovid family due to its unusual appearance and narrow habitat.

As a rule, bovids live in spacious open areas, such as savannahs and steppes. These animals are most adapted to a long run, they prefer to stay in a herd and are sometimes able to fight back predators, using strong horns and strong legs as weapons.

Takin, as a species, was discovered quite late – about a century and a half ago. First, naturalists discovered the bones of these animals, which they could not identify, and only then discovered this animal.

Appearance and features

Photo: Like looks takin

Photo: What takin looks like

Takin resembles a medium-sized cow. The height at the withers reaches one hundred cm, the length in males is a maximum of 150 cm, excluding the tail. The body weight of takins is about 300 kg – this is a fairly strong constitution for a small animal.

Takins have a pronounced withers, a slightly sagging back and a clearly visible croup. The tail of the animal is very short, more like the tails of sheep. The coat is long, soft, with a thick warm undercoat. The color of takins is gradient, light red, fawn. On the sides closer to the croup, it may be slightly lighter or darker. There are also dark marks on the muzzle, legs and belly of takins.

Takins have a massive head resembling the heads of elks. Large nose with voluminous cartilage, large nostrils, wide mouth and large black eyes. The ears are relatively small, but mobile, also densely covered with fur.

Females and males differ only in body size. Both of them have buffalo-like horns – a close arrangement at the base, and then a separation to the sides. In the middle, the horns are wide and flat, covering the forehead, and then curving up and back.

Takins have a thick mane, which is also observed in both females and males. Usually these are thin silky hairs that hang from the neck and lower jaw. Takin hooves are wide, with large bone outgrowths. The legs are strong, straight, stable.

Where does the takin live?

Photo: Takin in India

Photo: Takin in India

Takin are very attached to the territory they inhabit. These animals are not prone to migration, which complicates their breeding in captivity.

In general, takins live in the following places:

  • Northeast India;
  • Nepal;
  • Tibet;
  • China.

Most takin live in Sichuan province in China. There they live in a protected area, which includes rocky mountainous terrain and dense rainforests. Takins prefer to settle in the mountains, where the forest meets the rocks. Also, their herds can be seen in the subalpine and alpine plains, where there are small areas of rocks.

Takins love thickets of rhododendron, thickets of hard bamboo. They easily endure high altitudes – they are often found at an altitude of up to five thousand meters above sea level. During the cold period of time, takins descend from the freezing mountains into the foothill forests, where they live until the onset of heat.

Due to their body constitution, they are perfectly adapted to living in various territorial zones. Wide hooves and strong legs allow them to climb unstable stones and rocks. Being slow, but not large, they feel comfortable among dense forests and swampy areas.

Takins also do well in zoos. They are not demanding on the conditions of detention, such as buffaloes and some heat-loving antelopes. Takins do well in warm climates as well as in winter.

Now you know where takins are found. Let’s see what he eats.

What does a takin eat?

Photo: Golden takin

Photo: Golden Takin

Takins are ruminant animals that prefer to eat green grass, young tree branches and leaves during the warm season. The alpine flora is very diverse, so from spring to autumn, takins have a very rich diet, which includes more than 130 plant species.

In winter, takins eat twigs, needles, dry leaves, bamboo, and rhododendron. Also with wide hooves they dig up a thick layer of snow and even a hard ice crust to get to the roots and dry grass. Takins’ metabolism slows down during the winter, which keeps them from feeling hungry.

Takins can strip young bark from trees due to their jaw structure. The end of the muzzle of takins is soft cartilage, similar to those found in moose and some breeds of horses. Thanks to him, they eat bark and tree shoots.

Interesting fact: Takins can even stand on their hind legs to reach for treats – green foliage and fruits growing above the ground.

In zoos, the diet of takins is varied. In addition to young grass and hay, they are treated to fruits, berries and vegetables, and bran and vitamins are also added to the feed, allowing these animals to remain healthy and live long.

Character and lifestyle

Photo: Takin in nature

Photo : Takin in nature

Takin are extremely shy animals, and for this reason their behavior is the least studied. They are predominantly active during the day and in the evening – then these animals go to open meadows to feed.

Takins are grouped into small herds with a maximum of ten heads. The herd has a male leader and a hierarchy among females, but the leader does not chase away other young males. Naturalists note that older males of non-reproductive age stay away from the herd.

In winter, small herds of takins form large groups. So the animals are saved from the cold, jointly protect the growing cubs. Conflicts rarely occur within a group of takins – these animals are peaceful towards each other.

Fun Fact: Although takins seem slow and clumsy, they are able to climb very small rocky areas to feast on moss or young foliage.

Takins are not characterized by curiosity – shy animals avoid everything unknown. However, in a zoo, they are able to get used to a person, taking him for part of the herd. Female takins, raising cubs, sometimes have an unexpectedly lively character. They are able to attack potential enemies, defending themselves with horns and hooves. At the same time, males are much less aggressive than females, and perform only a reproductive function, not protecting the herd in any way.

Social structure and reproduction

Photo: Takin Hatchling

Photo: Baby takin

During the mating season, the males, who keep a little aloof from the herd, join the females and show intense interest in them. Usually the breeding season falls in July or August – it depends on the air temperature. Takins accumulate in huge herds, arranging a fight for the right to mate.

Male takins are non-conflict, so demonstration fights are extremely rare. Most often they just muffledly moo at each other, less often they collide with horns, but do not arrange long skirmishes. Losing takins (usually young and inexperienced males) move away from the herd of females and remain bystanders.

After mating, the males continue to stay solitary. Pregnancy of female takins lasts about eight months. The female gives birth to one calf, less often two, but the second, as a rule, does not survive in the wild. Cubs are born developed and independent. After a few hours, they get on their feet, and on the friction day they already play with each other.

Until the age of two weeks, the cubs feed on mother’s milk, and then gradually switch to plant foods. However, the mother nurses the cub for several months. Grown up cubs of takins form a “nursery”, which is looked after by one old female. Then the mothers of these cubs come to their children only for feeding.

Natural enemies of takins

Photo: Sichuan takin

Photo: Sichuan takin

At the slightest danger, takins tend to hide in bamboo thickets or go to sheer cliffs. They also have a behavior that is not observed in other artiodactyls – takins tend to hide. These animals lie in tall grass or among dense thickets and freeze, waiting for the enemy or potential danger to disappear. They even duck their necks and cover their eyes to minimize the chance of detection.

Interesting fact: The natives even have a joke that you can step on a takin – these large animals can be so invisible.

Takins live in places difficult for predators to reach. The worst enemy, which greatly crippled the Takin population, is man. Due to anthropogenic interference in nature and poaching, these animals have become on the verge of extinction. But there are a number of predators the takins face.

Tigers — cunning and dexterous animals that skillfully hunt takins. They are able to smell the hidden takin both in the mountains and in the forest. However, tigers are not able to seriously undermine the population of takins, as they prefer to hunt for more territorially accessible prey.

Bears are also less of a threat to takins. They are capable of attacking old or young individuals in open areas where slow takins have little chance of escaping. But bears are also rare in the habitats of these animals.

Population and species status

Photo: What takin looks like

Photo : What a takin looks like

Takins are endangered. Since their discovery, they have aroused great interest not only among naturalists, but also among lovers of wild hunting. Takins in their natural habitat do not have a large number of individuals, but their numbers dropped significantly at the end of the twentieth century.

There are a number of reasons why the population of takins has declined significantly:

  • poachers actively hunted takins, as it was believed that their internal organs, meat and horns had healing properties. They sold well in the market, which contributed to the further hunting of these animals;
  • Deforestation affects the population of takins. The fact is that these animals are very attached to their habitat and are reluctant to leave it. Therefore, takins often die along with the deforestation, and also lose a significant food supply due to the destruction of vegetation;
  • when takins were discovered as a species, they were caught in large quantities for zoos. There they did not have access to suitable living conditions and did not breed, which also affected the number of these animals;
  • Takins are susceptible to environmental changes, so air pollution affects their health and life expectancy. Researchers note that takins breed less readily in polluted environments.

These factors contributed to a significant reduction in the takin population. At the moment, the number of these animals is being restored thanks to timely conservation measures.

Takin protection

Photo: Takin from the Red Book

Photo: Takin from the Red Book

Takins are listed in the international Red Book under the status of a rare species. Conservation methods in relation to these animals were applied only a few decades ago, but they turned out to be very effective.

Firstly, the Chinese government recognized takins as the property of the country, which gave them a priori conservation status. Hunting takins is prohibited at the state level and is punishable by imprisonment and a fine.

Capturing takins for zoos is prohibited. Some individuals are kept in foreign zoos under special conditions that contribute to the effective reproduction of these animals. Captive takins are monitored by naturalist groups to monitor animal health indicators.

Secondly, areas that are predominantly inhabited by takins are recognized as protected areas. Deforestation and other anthropogenic interference is excluded, and this has greatly contributed to the restoration of the population of the species.

Nevertheless, industrial deforestation continues, so takins from unprotected areas continue to be under threat. So far, their population is stable, and these amazing animals can even be found in major zoos around the world.

Takin — beautiful and amazing animal. It remains to be hoped that zoos and reserves will be able to restore the population of these unusual animals. A conscious attitude to nature and a ban on deforestation in the habitats of takins can solve the problem of the extinction of these animals.

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