Anatolian Wild Sheep

There are two types of wild sheep in our country. One of them lives in Eastern Anatolia Region in Hakkari, Van, Iğdır and the other lives only in Konya – Bozdağ both in the world and in our country. This latter type is the Anatolian wild sheep. The most significant difference between these two types of sheep is that the female of the species living in Eastern Anatolia has horns while the female of the species living in Konya – Bozdağ does not have any horns.
It is indicated that Anatolian wild sheep was found in the rocky area lying to Emirdağları between Afyon – Konya and to Konya in east – south direction until 1945. Until the end of 1950s, they were seen in Karadağ which is at the north of Bozdağ.

Until 1957, they lived around Ankara – Nallıhan, in Saruyar Dam valley, between Mihalıççık – Sivrihisar towards south, in Araidbaba Mountain which is in the southeast of Sivrihisar. They are said to live in Bolkar Mountains until 1963. As the result of their being hunted unconsciously and exceedingly in 1960s, their number decreased down to 35 and they lived only in Konya Bozdağ, but they are taken under protection by the Ministry of Forestry and their number increased by time.

The females of the Anatolian wild sheep which have a life of 15 – 18 years have a weight of 50 kg, while the weight of the males is 75 kg for old ones. They have reddish brown color in summer and have short hair, in winter their color gets darker and black manes occur in the chest and neck parts of the males after 2 – 3 years.

While the wild sheep that continuously move during the day are resting, one male sheep continuously stands guard and hits its feet to ground and makes a sound similar to whistle in case of a danger to warn other sheep. All the herd runs towards the direction where the guardian sheep goes. Under normal conditions, predatory animals such as wolfs, dogs, jackals can not catch those sheep. Their sight and smell senses are very strong and they are resistant against thirst. In autumn and winter, they take out the roots and nodules of the plants with their nails and eat them. They mate in December and bring forth young between the beginning of May and beginning of June. The young female brings forth a single offspring, while the females aged more than two bring double offspring. Their front feet are shorter than their back feet.

The number per herd of the Anatolian wild sheep which live in the form of herds sometimes reach 100. In 1967, it has been seen that this value was about to disappear and this species has been taken under protection and now it lives in an area of 42.000 ha at the right and left of the main road between Konya – Aksaray at a distance of 50 km to Konya. This area includes Bozdağ, Sasa Mountain, Balık Mountain and Hodulbaba Mountain and is surrounded by Divanlar Göcü, Gene, Ağsaklı, Yağlıbayat, Bademli Gimir, Kocaş, Karakaya villages. As indicated, the sheep that had a big number previously, has become rare as the result of excess hunting stress, the sheep dogs’ killing the falcon offspring’s and the wolf’s directing the sheep towards snow gaps and causing their death under winter conditions. Furthermore, the faces of sheep dogs with parasites contaminated the grass and tapeworms passed to the wild sheep eating that grass. Another reason for that decrease in the number of that sheep is the feeding competition that occurred as the result of feeding ten thousands of sheep in the same area.

These bad conditions have been improved in favour of the sheep as the result of the works carried out by our Ministry. To summarize them, big numbers of guards, personnel and vehicles have been charged in the region, struggles have been made with the wolfs and unconfined dogs, entrance of tamed sheep is forbidden to some regions, spread of tamed sheep in those regions with dogs has been prevented during the birth and offspring periods of the wild sheep, water has been provided to the animals in hot summer months by constructing grass and fodder storage and water containers and in this way, healthy offspring’s have been obtained. In extreme winters, grass support has been provided to the area and the growing up and continuity of life of the wild sheep have been provided.

In order to prevent the death of the sheep because of probable infectious diseases in the area, an area of 5 thousand ha has been surrounded with both net wire and electroshock wire to divide the sheep population into two; a big part of the sheep has been taken into this fence and diseases and parasites in these sheep have been minimized and feeding competition and wolf damages have been completely prevented. In this area, the sheep will be placed in compliance with their old living environment in a program that will provide their easily being caught. As the conditions got better, it has been determined that there are 1041 sheep in that area as the result of the counting made in the area surrounded with net and electroshock wire, by General Directorate of National Parks and Hunting – Wild Life in February 1998 with the cooperation of our Ministry and Selçuk University.

Naturally, as the result of the increase in the number of the sheep in the area, the works such as the provision of fodder, water, grass, maintenance, protection, study, inventory, etc and administrative expenses will increase and there will be great need for vehicles, helicopters and trained personnel. Big amounts of money will be needed for such works and in case legal arrangement is made in accordance with the contemporary conditions, it may be possible to permit hunting in order to provide contribution to economy.

As an example to show that the sheep are valuable and that their hunting value is high, two of the sheep has been hunted as the result of laboratory examination and a price of 18.500$ for one of them and 12.500 $ for the other has been taken.

In case the public and the local administrations pay the necessary attention to the issue, we have to use any of our possibilities for the protection, development and proliferation of this species that has a great importance in terms of hunting tourism.

The 5 Best Lakes Of Turkey’s Lake District
Turkey’s Bird Species under Danger in Europe
The Importance of Wetlands
Convention on Biological Diversity
Protected Areas and IUCN Categories