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Takin Standing (22221570730).jpg
Takin at Roger Williams Park Zoo
Scientific classification Red Pencil Icon.png
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Artiodactyla
Family: Bovidae
Subfamily: Caprinae
Genus: Budorcas
B. taxicolor
Binomial name
Budorcas taxicolor
Hodgson, 1850

B. t. bedfordi
B. t. taxicolor
B. t. tibetana
B. t. whitei


Takin range.jpg
Distribution of the takin

The takin (Budorcas taxicolor; /ˈtɑːkɪn/ ), also called cattle chamois or gnu goat, [2] is a large species of ungulate of the subfamily Caprinae found in the eastern Himalayas. It includes four subspecies: the Mishmi takin (B. t. taxicolor), the golden takin (B. t. bedfordi), the Tibetan (or Sichuan) takin (B. t. tibetana), and the Bhutan takin (B. t. whitei).

Whilst the takin has in the past been placed together with the muskox in the tribe Ovibovini, more recent mitochondrial research shows a closer relationship to Ovis (sheep). [3] Its physical similarity to the muskox is therefore an example of convergent evolution. [4] The takin is the national animal of Bhutan. [5]


The takin rivals the muskox as the largest and stockiest of the subfamily Caprinae, which includes goats, sheep, and similar species. Its short legs are supported by large, two-toed hooves, which each have a highly developed spur. [2] [6] It has a stocky body and a deep chest. Its large head is distinctive by its long, arched nose and stout horns, which are ridged at the base. These horns are present in both sexes, and run parallel to the skull before turning upwards to a short point; they are about 30 cm (12 in) long, but can grow up to 64 cm (25 in). [2] Its long, shaggy coat is light in color with a dark stripe along the back, [2] and males (bulls) also have dark faces. [6]

Four subspecies of takin are currently recognised, and these tend to show a variation in coat color. Their thick wool often turns black in color on their undersides and legs. Their overall coloration ranges from dark blackish to reddish-brown suffused with grayish-yellow in the eastern Himalayas to lighter yellow-gray in the Sichuan Province to mostly golden or (rarely) creamy-white with fewer black hairs in the Shaanxi Province.

The legend of the 'golden fleece' sought by Jason and the Argonauts [7] may have been inspired by the lustrous coat of the golden takin (B. t. bedfordi). [6] Hair length can range from 3 cm (1.2 in), on the flanks of the body in summer, up to 24 cm (9.4 in) on the underside of the head in winter.

In height, takin stand 97 to 140 cm (38 to 55 in) at the shoulder, but measure a relatively short 160–220 cm (63–87 in) in head-and-body length, with the tail adding only an additional 12 to 21.6 cm (4.7 to 8.5 in). Measurements of weights vary, but according to most reports, the males are slightly larger, weighing 300–350 kg (660–770 lb) against 250–300 kg (550–660 lb) in females. [8] Sources including Betham (1908) report that females are larger, with the largest captive takin known to the author, at 322 kg (710 lb), having been female. Takin can weigh up to 400 kg (880 lb) or 600 kg (1,300 lb) in some cases. [9] [10]

Instead of relying on localized scent glands, the takin secretes an oily, strong-smelling substance over its whole body, enabling it to mark objects such as trees. [6] A prominent nose with a swollen appearance caused biologist George Schaller to liken the takin to a "bee-stung moose." [5] Features reminiscent of familiar domesticated species have earned takins such nicknames as "cattle chamois" and "gnu goat."

Distribution and habitat

Takin are found from forested valleys to rocky, grass-covered alpine zones, at altitudes between 1,000 and 4,500 m (3,300 and 14,800 ft) above sea level. [2] The Mishmi takin occurs in eastern Arunachal Pradesh, while the Bhutan takin is in western Arunachal Pradesh and Bhutan. [11] Dihang-Dibang Biosphere Reserve in Arunachal Pradesh, India is a stronghold of both Mishmi, Upper Siang (Kopu) [12] and Bhutan takins. [13]

Behaviour and ecology

Takin are found in small family groups of around 20 individuals, although older males may lead more solitary existences. In the summer, herds of up to 300 individuals gather high on the mountain slopes. [2] Groups often appear to occur in largest numbers when favorable feeding sites, salt licks, or hot springs are located. Mating takes place in July and August. Adult males compete for dominance by sparring head-to-head with opponents, and both sexes appear to use the scent of their own urine to indicate dominance. A single young is born after a gestation period of around eight months. [2] Takin migrate from the upper pasture to lower, more forested areas in winter and favor sunny spots upon sunrise. [2] When disturbed, individuals give a 'cough' alarm call and the herd retreats into thick bamboo thickets and lies on the ground for camouflage. [7]

Takin feed in the early morning and late afternoon, grazing on a variety of leaves and grasses, as well as bamboo shoots and flowers. [7] They have been observed standing on their hind legs to feed on leaves over 3.1 m (10 ft) high. Salt is also an important part of their diets, and groups may stay at a mineral deposit for several days. [2]


The takin is listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List and considered Endangered in China. It is threatend by overhunting and the destruction of its natural habitat. It is not a common species naturally, and the population appears to have been reduced considerably. Takin horns have appeared in the illegal wildlife trade in Myanmar; and during three surveys carried out from 1999 to 2006 in the Tachilek market, a total of 89 sets of horns were observed openly for sale. [14]

Related Research Articles

Caprinae Subfamily of mammals

The subfamily Caprinae is part of the ruminant family Bovidae, and consists of mostly medium-sized bovids. A member of this subfamily is called a caprine, or, more informally, a goat-antelope.

Mountain goat Species of mammal

The mountain goat, also known as the Rocky Mountain goat, is a hoofed mammal endemic to mountainous areas of western North America. A subalpine to alpine species, it is a sure-footed climber commonly seen on cliffs and ice.

Dibang Valley district District of Arunachal Pradesh in India

Dibang Valley (Pron:/dɪˈbæŋ/) is a district of Arunachal Pradesh named after the Dibang River or the Talon as the Mishmis call it. It is the least populated district in India and has an area of 9,129 square kilometres (3,525 sq mi).

Anini District Headquarters in Arunachal Pradesh, India

Anini is the headquarters of the Dibang Valley district in the state of Arunachal Pradesh in Northeast India. Anini was also the district headquarters of the undivided Dibang Valley district. It is a small underdeveloped town, mainly because of its remoteness. Yet, it still has basic road and air links to the rest of India. The Idu Mishmi tribal people constitute a majority here. The town is fully dependent on the nearest major settlement, Roing, which is in the Lower Dibang Valley District, for most commercial needs.

Walong town in Arunachal Pradesh, India

Walong is an administrative town and the headquarters of eponymous circle in the Anjaw district in eastern-most part of Arunachal Pradesh state in India. It also has a small cantonment of the Indian Army. Walong is on banks of Lohit River, which enters India 35 km north of Walong at India-China LAC at Kaho pass.

Himalayan goral Species of mammal

The Himalayan goral is a bovid species found across the Himalayas. It is listed as Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List because the population is thought to be declining significantly due to habitat loss and hunting for meat.

Anjaw district District of Arunachal Pradesh in India

Anjaw District (Pron:/ˈændʒɔ:/) is an administrative district in the state of Arunachal Pradesh in north-east India. It was created district in 2004, by splitting off from the Lohit district under the Arunachal Pradesh Re-organization of Districts Amendment Act. The district borders China on the north. Hawai, at an altitude of 1296 m above sea level, is the district headquarters, located on the banks of the Lohit River, a tributary of the Brahmaputra River. It is the easternmost district in India. The furthest villages towards the border with Chin are Dong, Walong, Kibithu and Kaho.

Lower Dibang Valley district District of Arunachal Pradesh in India

The Lower Dibang Valley district (Pron:/dɪˈbæŋ/) is an administrative district in the state of Arunachal Pradesh in northeastern India. It is the tenth least populous district in the country.

Eastern Himalayan broadleaf forests

The Eastern Himalayan broadleaf forests is a temperate broadleaf forest ecoregion found in the middle elevations of the eastern Himalayas, including parts of Nepal, India, and Bhutan. These forests have an outstanding richness of wildlife.

Changqing National Nature Reserve

Changqing National Nature Reserve is located near Huayang Village in the Qin Mountains of Shaanxi province of China.

Eastern Himalayan alpine shrub and meadows Ecoregion in the Eastern Himalayas

The Eastern Himalayan alpine shrub and meadows is a montane grasslands and shrublands ecoregion of Bhutan, China, India, Myanmar, and Nepal, which lies between the tree line and snow line in the eastern portion of the Himalaya Range.

Mishmi takin

The Mishmi takin is an endangered goat-antelope native to India, Myanmar and the People's Republic of China. It is a subspecies of takin.

Sichuan takin

The Sichuan takin or Tibetan takin is a subspecies of takin (goat-antelope). Budorcas from Greek bous and dorkas ("gazelle"); taxicolor from Latin taxus ("badger") and color ("hue") referring to badger-like coloration Listed as a vulnerable species, the Sichuan takin is native to Tibet and the provinces of Sichuan, Gansu and Xinjiang in the People's Republic of China.

Bhutan takin

The Bhutan Takin is a vulnerable subspecies of Takin native to Bhutan, North Eastern India, Western part of China, and Tibet. The main threats to the Bhutan Takin are hunting and habitat loss.

Dihang-Dibang Biosphere Reserve Biosphere Reserve in Arunachal Pradesh, India

Dihang-Dibang or Dehang-Debang is a biosphere reserve constituted in 1998. It is in the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh. The Mouling National Park and the Dibang Wildlife Sanctuary are located fully or partly within this biosphere reserve. The reserve spreads over three districts: Dibang Valley, Upper Siang, and West Siang. It covers high mountains of Eastern Himalaya and Mishmi Hills. The elevation in the reserve ranges up to more than 5,000 metres (16,000 ft) above sea level. An important fact relating to this Biosphere reserve is that it has natural vegetation stretching in an unbroken sequence from the tropics to mountain tundra. The type of vegetation found in this biosphere reserve can be grouped as 1. Sub-tropical broad leafed forests, 2. Sub tropical pine forest, 3. Temperate broad leafed forests, 4. Temperate conifer, 5. Sub-alpine woody shrub, 6. Alpine meadow( mountain Tundra), 7. Bamboo brakes, 8. Grassland. The habitat in Dihang-Dibang ranges from tropical wet evergreen in the river gorges to subtropical, temperate, alpine and permanent snow.

Eastern Himalayan subalpine conifer forests

The Eastern Himalayan subalpine conifer forests is a temperate coniferous forests ecoregion which is found in the middle and upper elevations of the eastern Middle Himalayas, in western Nepal, Bhutan, and northern Indian states including Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim.

Motithang Takin Preserve

Motithang Takin Preserve, located in the Motithang district of Thimphu, Bhutan is a wildlife reserve area for takin, the national animal of Bhutan. Originally a mini-zoo, it was converted into a preserve when it was discovered that the animals refrained from inhabiting the surrounding forest even when set free. The reason for declaring takin as a national animal of Bhutan on 25 November 2005 is attributed to a legend of the animal’s creation in Bhutan in the 15th century by Lama Drukpa Kunley.

Dibang Wildlife Sanctuary Wildlife sanctuary in India

The Dibang Wildlife Sanctuary is one of the eight wildlife sanctuaries of Arunachal Pradesh, India. It is located in the Upper Dibang Valley district covering an area of 4,149 km2 (1,602 sq mi). The sanctuary is rich in wildlife. Rare mammals such as Mishmi takin, red goral, musk deer, red panda, Asiatic black bear, occasional tiger and Gongshan muntjac occur while among birds there are the rare Sclater's monal and Blyth's tragopan. A flying squirrel , new to science has been recently discovered from the edge of this sanctuary. It has been named the Mishmi Hills giant flying squirrel. Dibang Wildlife Sanctuary is located fully or partly within Dihang-Dibang Biosphere Reserve

Mishmi Hills Mountain range in northeastern Arunachal Pradesh, India

The Mishmi Hills are located at the northeastern tip of India, in northeastern Arunachal Pradesh. On the Chinese side, they form the southern parts of Nyingchi Prefecture in the Tibet Autonomous Region.

Geography of Arunachal Pradesh

Arunachal Pradesh is primarily a hilly tract nestled in the foothills of the Himalayas in northeast India. It is spread over an area of 83,743 km2 (32,333 sq mi). 98% of the geographical area is land out of which 80% is forest cover; 2% is water. River systems in the region, including those from the higher Himalayas and Patkoi and Arakan Ranges, eventually drain into the Brahmaputra River.


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  8. WWF: Takin
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  13. Choudhury, A.U. (2010). Mammals and Birds of Dihang – Dibang Biosphere Reserve, North-east India. Lambert Academic Publishing, Saarbrücken, Germany. 104pp.
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Further reading