Last updated

Takin Standing (22221570730).jpg
Takin at Roger Williams Park Zoo
CITES Appendix II (CITES) [1]
Scientific classification OOjs UI icon edit-ltr.svg
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Artiodactyla
Family: Bovidae
Subfamily: Caprinae
Tribe: Caprini
Genus: Budorcas
B. taxicolor
Binomial name
Budorcas taxicolor
Hodgson, 1850

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


Takin IUCN Distribution.jpg
Distribution of the takin

The takin (Budorcas taxicolor; /ˈtɑːkɪn/ TAH-kin), 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 specific name taxicolor comes from Latin : taxus, lit. 'badger' and color, 'hue' referring to badger-like coloration. [6]


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] [7] 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. 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. [7]

Four subspecies of takin are currently recognised, and these tend to show a variation in coat colour. Their thick wool often turns black in colour 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 [8] may have been inspired by the lustrous coat of the golden takin (B. t. bedfordi). [7] 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. [9] 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. [10] [11]

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. [7] 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. [12] Dihang-Dibang Biosphere Reserve in Arunachal Pradesh, India is a stronghold of both Mishmi, Upper Siang (Kopu) [13] and Bhutan takins. [14]

Behaviour and ecology

Video of a takin scent-rubbing in Yokohama Zoo

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. [8]

Takin feed in the early morning and late afternoon, grazing on a variety of leaves and grasses, as well as bamboo shoots and flowers. [8] 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 threatened 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. [15]


Relationships with other caprines based on mitochondrial DNA after Bover et al.: [16]




Bootherium (Helmeted muskox)

Ovibos (Musk ox)

Capricornis (Serow)

Naemorhedus (Goral)

Ovis (Sheep)

Oreamnos (Mountain goat)

Budorcas (Takin)

Myotragus (Balearic islands goat)

Rupicapra (Chamois)

Ammotragus (Barbary sheep)

Arabitragus (Arabian tahr)

Pseudois (Bharal)

Hemitragus (Himalayan tahr)

Capra (Markhor, ibexes, goats)

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Caprinae</span> Subfamily of mammals

The subfamily Caprinae, also sometimes referred to as the tribe Caprini, is part of the ruminant family Bovidae, and consists of mostly medium-sized bovids. A member of this subfamily is called a caprine.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Dibang Valley district</span> 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).

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Leaf muntjac</span> Species of deer

The leaf muntjac, leaf deer or Putao muntjac is a small species of muntjac. It was documented in 1997 by biologist Alan Rabinowitz during his field study in the isolated Nogmung Township in Myanmar. Rabinowitz discovered the species by examining the small carcass of a deer that he initially believed was the juvenile of another species; however, it proved to be the carcass of an adult female. He managed to obtain specimens, from which DNA analysis revealed a new cervid species. Local hunters knew of the species and called it the leaf deer because its body could be completely wrapped by a single large leaf. It is found in Myanmar and India.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Anini</span> 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. Most of this location's population consists of the Idu Mishmi tribal people. Due to its remote location, Anini remains a small and underdeveloped town. However, it still has basic road and air links to the rest of India. The town is fully dependent on the nearest major settlement, Roing, which is in the Lower Dibang Valley District, for most commercial needs.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Walong</span> 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.

<i>Myotragus</i> Extinct genus of mammals

Myotragus is an extinct genus of goat-antelope in the tribe Caprini which lived on the Balearic Islands of Mallorca and Menorca in the western Mediterranean until its extinction around 4,500 years ago. The fossil record of Myotragus on the Balearic Islands extends over 5 million years back to the early Pliocene on Mallorca, where it presumably arrived after the evaporation of the Mediterranean Sea during the Messinian Salinity Crisis.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Anjaw district</span> 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 China are Dong, Walong, Kibithu and Kaho.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Lower Dibang Valley district</span> 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.

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

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Eastern Himalayan alpine shrub and meadows</span> 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.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Golden takin</span> Endangered goat-antelope

The golden takin is a threatened subspecies of takin, native to the Qin Mountains in the south of China's Shaanxi province. There are four distinct subspecies of the Takin: Mishmi Takin, Sichuan Takin, Bhutan Takin/White's Takin, and Golden takin.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Mishmi takin</span> A subspecies of takins, an animal found in the Himalayas

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.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Sichuan takin</span> Subspecies of takin

The Sichuan takin or Tibetan takin is a subspecies of takin (goat-antelope). 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.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Bhutan takin</span> A subspecies of Takin

The Bhutan Takin is a subspecies of Takin native to Bhutan but also found in North Eastern India, Western part of China, and Tibet. Locally known as drong gimtse, it holds the honor of being Bhutan's national animal.

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 are 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.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Eastern Himalayan subalpine conifer forests</span>

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, northern Indian states including Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim and adjacent Myanmar and China.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Motithang Takin Preserve</span> Wildlife reserve area in Thimphu, Bhutan

Motithang Takin Preserve, located in the Motithang district of Thimphu, Bhutan is a wildlife reserve area for Bhutan 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.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Dibang Wildlife Sanctuary</span> Wildlife sanctuary in India

The Dibang Wildlife Sanctuary is one of the eight wildlife sanctuaries of Arunachal Pradesh, India.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Mishmi Hills</span> 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.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Geography of Arunachal Pradesh</span>

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.


  1. 1 2 Song, Y.-L.; Smith, A.T.; MacKinnon, J. (2008). "Budorcas taxicolor". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species . 2008: e.T3160A9643719. doi: 10.2305/IUCN.UK.2008.RLTS.T3160A9643719.en . Retrieved 24 January 2022.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Animal Diversity Web (November, 2002) "Budorcas taxicolor" (University of Michigan Museum of Zoology) via arkive.org
  3. Zhou, M; Yu, J; Li, B; Ouyang, B; Yang, J (2019). "The complete mitochondrial genome of Budorcas taxicolor tibetana (Artiodactyla: Bovidae) and comparison with other Caprinae species: Insight into the phylogeny of the genus Budorcas". International Journal of Biological Macromolecules. 121: 223–232. doi:10.1016/j.ijbiomac.2018.10.020. PMID   30296464. S2CID   52940552 . Retrieved 2021-04-20.
  4. Groves, Pamela; Shields, Gerald F. (December 1997). "CytochromeBSequences Suggest Convergent Evolution of the Asian Takin and Arctic Muskox". Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 8 (3): 363–374. Bibcode:1997MolPE...8..363G. doi:10.1006/mpev.1997.0423.
  5. 1 2 Tashi Wangchuk (2007). "The Takin - Bhutan's National Animal". In Lindsay Brown; Stan Armington (eds.). Bhutan. Lonely Planet. p. 87. ISBN   978-1-74059-529-2 . Retrieved 15 September 2011.
  6. Neas, John F.; Hoffmann, Robert S. (27 February 1987). "Budorcas taxicolor". Mammalian Species (277): 1–7. doi: 10.2307/3503907 . ISSN   0076-3519. JSTOR   3503907.
  7. 1 2 3 4 Macdonald, D. (2001) The New Encyclopedia of Mammals. Oxford University Press, Oxford. via arkive.org
  8. 1 2 3 Huffman, Brent. "Budorcas taxicolor" Ultimate Ungulate via arkive.org
  9. WWF: Takin
  10. "Budorcas taxicolor (takin)". Animal Diversity Web. Retrieved 21 March 2018.
  11. Smith, A. T., Xie, Y. (eds.) (2008) A Guide to the Mammals of China. Princeton University Press, Princeton Oxfordshire. Page 472.
  12. Choudhury, A.U. (2003). The Mammals of Arunachal Pradesh. Regency Publications, New Delhi. 140pp
  13. Dasgupta, S., Sarkar, P., Deori, D., Kyarong, S., Kaul, R., Ranjitsinh, M. K. & Menon, V. 2010 Distribution and Status of Takin (Budarcos taxicolor)along the Tibet, Myanmar and Bhutan border in India. A report of Wildlife Trust of India submitted to CEPF. 47 pages.
  14. Choudhury, A.U. (2010). Mammals and Birds of Dihang – Dibang Biosphere Reserve, North-east India. Lambert Academic Publishing, Saarbrücken, Germany. 104pp.
  15. Shepherd, C. R. & Nijman, V. (2016). "Observations of Takin from wildlife markets in Myanmar and a call for further research". Caprinae, Newsletter for the Caprinae Specialist Group: 16–19.
  16. Bover, Pere; Llamas, Bastien; Mitchell, Kieren J.; Thomson, Vicki A.; Alcover, Josep Antoni; Lalueza-Fox, Carles; Cooper, Alan; Pons, Joan (July 2019). "Unraveling the phylogenetic relationships of the extinct bovid Myotragus balearicus Bate 1909 from the Balearic Islands". Quaternary Science Reviews. 215: 185–195. Bibcode:2019QSRv..215..185B. doi:10.1016/j.quascirev.2019.05.005. S2CID   189965070.

Further reading