Wildlife populations are rapidly devastated in the world and in Turkey. The
reason of this is that, because of human activities, the environment is damaged
and wildlife habitats disappeared. The land of Anatolia, which is one of the
leading regions of the world in terms of flora and fauna with many of its endemic
species, has been the scene for various civilizations for thousands of year.
During all these periods, nature was damaged, this damage particularly increased
in the last 200 years and as a result, many animals were extinct or endangered
(Gundogdu, 2006). Wild goat, which is the subject of the
preset study, is considered as a risky group and the continuity of its generation
is estimated to be endangered. The species is listed as VU A2cde in IUCN Red
List of Threatened Animals (IUCN, 2010). The literature
contains limited number of studies on the population size of wild goat. Gundogdu
(2006) carried out the first study on this subject on the ecology of a wild
goat population in Isparta, Turkey. According to this study, population density
in 3 different areas in 100 ha was found to be 0.62, 4.58 and 0.25, respectively.
Accordingly, Wild goat population consists of 15% male, 45% female, 40% kids
in summer and 25% male, 35% female, 40% kids in winter. Average number of kids
per female goat is 0.85. Abdominal size was found to be (b) = 1.72. The goats
give birth to 2 kids at a ratio of 66%; 1 kid at a ratio of 30% and 3 kids at
a ratio of 4% in annual basis.
The height of a mature male goat was 130-180 cm, height at withers was 80-100
cm, tail length was 15-20 cm and weight was 50-85 kg. The weight the female
was 20-35 kg. The horns were longer in males (reaches 150 cm) and shorter in
females (25-30 cm). The fur of wild goat is covered with short, thick and hard
hairs; the color of the goat was pale grayish-yellowish in winter and reddish-brown
in summer (Hus, 1974; Turan, 1987;
Demirsoy, 1992; Gundogdu and Ogurlu,
2009). Tolunay (1953), Hus (1963,
1974), Turan (1987), Demirsoy
(1992) and Canakcioglu and Mol (1996) reported that
gestation period lasted 5 months; that the births took place in may and that
the goats generally gave birth to twins and rarely triplets. Unlike these findings,
Tolunay (1953) reported that the females give birth to
1-2 kids and Canakcioglu (1987) reported that the females
give birth to generally one kid.
Korshunov (1994) reported that mating began in November,
gestation lasted approximately 5 months and that births generally took place
in late-April or early-may but sometimes late-may or early April or even in
July. Korshunov (1994) further indicated that generally
aged females gave birth to two kids, young females give birth to 1 kid, that
one female rarely gave birth to 3 kids and approximately 20% of the females
were infertile. Korshunov (1994) reported that male/female
ratio was 1:2.1.
Demirsoy (1992) and Canakcioglu and
Mol (1996) reported that males fought in rut period. In addition, the researchers
reported that in rut period, due to a smell released from the glands at the
bottom of the horns, the males smelled bad, they left this smell to any place
they passed or stayed; the males made a deep and hoarse sound in this period
and made a whistle-like sound and that the females made the same sound when
they were frightened.
Hus (1963, 1974) reported that
strong males, which used to live solitary joined the group of females in mating
season; the females attracted the attention of the males by making sounds, sneezing
and making noises by hitting o the rocks. According to Hus
(1963, 1974) the same male mated with the same goat
3-4 times in one hour and thus in the following days, the male which joined
the flock mates with each of the females in the group. In case of a danger,
this male was first to attempt to save his life. He further indicated that when
a new male joins the group, in case the first male feels himself weak, he leaves
his place to the new-comer; however if the first one feels that he can beat
the new-comer, than a fierce fight occurs between the males; the sound of hitting
horns sounds like the sound of an axe that beats against a tree.
Demirsoy (1992) and Canakcioglu and
Mol (1996) reported that wild goats were daytime animals, they easily climbed
step rocks; although they actually moved slowly, they ran away by jumping when
they are frightened; they grazed until late in the evening even sometimes in
bright nights; during the day they lied under the shadow of the rocks, large
caves and through the thick trees either ruminated or rested.
MATERIALS AND METHODS
The study was carried out in Cehennemdere Wildlife Improvement Area, which
is 29.419 ha large in between 2007 to 2008 years. Cehennemdere region is located
in Bolkar Mountains that lies in eastern part of Central Taurus in Southeastern
Anatolia (Fig. 1).
Study area is located in Mediterranean climate belt and has a long summer drought
in vegetation period. Annual vegetation duration is 321.9 days, which is quite
a long period. Number of annual frosty day is 5.1 days, which is quite short.
Average relative humidity was 64%. Relative humidity was observed to have a
regular distribution in the year. Total annual precipitation is 1118.3 mm (Yilmaz,
2005). Annual average temperature varied between 10.1 and 13.8°C (Gurses
et al., 1996).
|| Geographic location of study area
There are hard, crystallized and cracked old limestones in the study area.
Furthermore, there is sandy, clayey, marl rock in the southern parts (Atalay,
1987). Towards the end of Mesozoic, along with the Alps, Taurus Mountains
also folded and elevated. In the early tertiary Taurus Mountains turned to mainland
(Gemici, 1995). The soils of the study area are formed
by the weathering of sedimentary bedrock. Large soil groups in ten region include
Brown frost soils, non-calcerous Brown forest soils, red Mediterranean soils,
red Brown Mediterranean soils, rendzina soils and colluvial soils. In parallel
to the slope and erosion degrees, highly sloped and steep sloped highland soils
of the region were observed to be generally shallow and highly shallow. The
soil is generally moderately deep and shallow in slight and moderate slopes.
Bolkar Mountains is located in the intersection of two large biogeographic
regions: Mediterranean Region and Irano-Turanien Regions. Thus, the region is
referred to as the area where Asia steppes embrace Mediterranean (Gemici
et al., 1996). Southern slopes of the region reflect the characteristics
of Mediterranean vegetation; while the northern slopes reflect the characteristics
of Irano-Turanien region. With more than 1500 plant species (corresponds to
one seventh of Turkey flora) and more than 300 endemic species (corresponds
to one tenth of Turkeys endemic plant species) Bolkar Mountains are considered
as one of the important flora areas of Turkey (Gemici, 1995).
General survey was made in the localities where wild goats were reported to
live according to the interviews conducted with the hunters and shepherds living
in the study area. The determined points were marked on 1/25000 topographic
maps. These points were visited and the coordinates were recorded using Global
Position System (GPS). In addition, preliminary observations were made at these
points. The accuracy of the obtained data was validated by detecting the existence
of wild goats by tracking the signs such as the footprints or the feces of the
animals or by directly observing the animals.
In this study, considering the population size of the species, point count
method was used for species inventory. It is possible to determine the size,
density and behaviors of the population (Gundogdu, 2006;
Korshunov, 1994; Ogurlu, 2003).
The data of the population characteristics of the wild goat was obtained through
direct observations performed in the areas where the species were determined
to live. The observations were performed in 2-3 h periods in the morning and
in the evening, from sunrise to sunset in summer; and during the entire day
in winter (Ogurlu, 2003). Field study was carried out
by setting camps with tents for 2-3 days. The study area was visited for 78
days between the years of 2007-2008. Based on these observations, the characteristics
of population dynamics such as population distribution and structure; annual
number of birth, gender ratio, mating behavior and group size and behaviors
were tried to be determined.
Wild goats in the study area were considered as one population, presuming that
they were in interaction through the mature males particularly in reproduction
period. For the determination of group structure and group size in the area,
based on the method specified by Garcia-Gonzales and Cuartas
(1996) reported by Baskaya (2000), a social unit moving
to the same direction with a distance smaller than 50 m between the individuals,
was considered as a group (Gundogdu and Ogurlu, 2009).
In sex distinction and age classification in males, based on morphologic features,
the individuals with a body weight of 25-30 kg on average and height of 60 cm,
having thin and fragile horns ranging between 25-30 cm which were almost the
half of that of a male goat were considered as female. The individuals that
were smaller than females approximately 1/3 of which weight 5-10 kg were considered
as kids. The individuals having thick horn of more than 30 cm reaching even
150 cm with a length of 155 cm and a body weight of 80-90 kg were considered
as male (Gundogdu and Ogurlu, 2009). In age classification
of the male individuals, the information available in the literature was reviewed
(Hus, 1974; Serez, 1981; Turan,
1984; Demirsoy, 1992; Korshunov,
1994; Canakcioglu and Mol, 1996). In addition, a distinction
was made based on the interviews with the experienced hunter of the species
and our observations.
Population size: To determine population size, counts were made in the
area in summer and winter between the years of 2007 and 2008 (Fig.
2). It was found that population size was the highest in 2007 summer (728);
population density was 2,5 animals/100 ha. Average male/female ratio was approximately
1.04. Of the observed males, 66% were younger than 4 years old, 34% were older
than 4 years.
Population structure: In 2007 summer a total of 249 females and 245
goat kids were counted; ratio of kids per female was 0.98. In 2008, a total
of 266 females and 231 kids were counted, corresponding to 0.87 kids per each
female goat. In 2007 winter count, while only 48 males over the age of 4 were
observed; in 2008, a total of 23 individuals over the age of 4 were counted
According to the data of 2008, in summer counts 27% of the population consisted
of males; 39% consisted of and 34% consisted of kids; in winter counts on the
other hand, as it was reproduction season and the aged makes joined to the population,
the rate of males were observed to increase to 29%.
In the study, it was found that the goats give birth to 2 kids with a frequency
of 58% and 1 kid with a frequency of 42% in annual basis. The births start in
the third week of may and continue until the second week of July. Wild goats
are polygamic species in terms of mating; a male can mate with more than one
|| Observed male-female-kid rates
Behaviours: The observations indicated that the population lived in
groups in study area. It was found that the determinant factor in this distribution
was the cover, which they used for protecting from enemies. It was observed
that the primary factor determining the behavior of wild goats is the feeling
of safety; while moving or grazing, the animals were observed to absolutely
take a position to defense themselves from their enemies.
In this period, due to high temperature, wild goats were observed to need more
water and thus while going to water, they were particularly attentive and cautious
against dangers. It was observed that wild goats visited water areas for a number
of times in winter- mostly in the morning and rarely during day time or in the
evening- and generally turned back from the area where they drink water in the
evening. When wild goats reached water, they were observed to wait without moving
for 10-15 min; when it get fully dark, they walked into the water one by one
and very slowly; a new goat did not enter in the water until the previous goat
comes out form the water; they kneeled and drank water for 20-30 min and thus
water drinking behavior lasted for nearly 1 hour. Furthermore, it was found
that wild goats showed utmost attention towards dangers as they approached water,
when they approached to the water in addition to showing utmost attention against
dangers, when they felt a danger, they did not use the same route in the same
day when they turn back from water. In addition to all these, it was observed
that there was a strong hierarchical relationship between the flock members
of wild goats; this hierarchy particularly manifested itself in water drinking
behavior which takes place in the period between arid periods to the mating
period. The dominant male was first to drink water, then the middle aged individuals
under the protection of the dominant male and then the rest of the flock were
observed to drink water.
It was observed that hierarchy was also very important in choosing mates. Large
males of each flock fought in mating season and during this oppression process,
young and sick males left the flock and the dominant male spent much energy
and was then exhausted. Besides, it was observed that in the flock the male
first chose to mate with the youngest females and reserved other females.
Wild goats were observed to be more active between 09:00 -11:00 and 14:00-16:00
Oclock in winter. Thus, during the mating season in winter, it is possible
to observe behaviors such as water drinking, grazing, mating, resting and courtship
of wild goat flock.
It was found that a typical wild goat flock was led by an aged female goat,
followed by her kids and other females. Young male until the age of 3-4 followed
the females, followed by the strongest male goat (which is generally the largest
one). Less strong males over the age of 4 were observed to travel around the
flock, serving as protectors of the flock. Furthermore, it was observed that
while the wild goats changed location, the oldest female observed the flock
and this observer female halted at every 5-10 sec and looked around for 3-5
sec, meanwhile other members of the group waited motionless and when the observed
female walked, the rest of the flock followed her.
It was found that in case of a danger, different goats undertook the leader
and the dominant member roles. In other words, in case of an emergency, an aged
female or a young male frequently undertook the role of leader and the aged
male moved to be backmost of the flock. While running away from a danger, all
members first gathered around while his protector led the dominant male to the
center of the gathering. After a few seconds, they left the flock and hid behind
a coppice or a rock where they could detect the danger and the degree of the
danger. The role of the dominant male begins right here. When the flock encounter
unexpected barriers or when a predator attack is the case, the dominant male
and his protector first takes up waiting position to estimate the danger. The
dominant male determines the direction for running away and moves toward a safe
direction, quickly followed by the rest of the flock. After a time, the flock
gets dispersed and takes shelter under the hiding cover. The direction led by
the dominant male can sometimes be the source of a danger. Another role of the
dominant male was to establish hierarchy in the flock and to force the members
who disturb this hierarchy. It was also found that the dominant male was responsible
for protecting the members, which needed to be protected.
It was found that the wild goats in Cehennemdere Wildlife Improvement Area
mated at a period between the first week of December and the second week of
January. Two or three weeks before this period aged males joined the flock from
the areas where they spent the summer and compete among themselves. The winners
of the fights visit the groups with female members and choose females to mate
with. Mating behavior generally starts with a precipitation like rain or snow
and is most intensified under rainy and foggy weather conditions due to easy
hiding. The male seeking to mate with a female, makes a goose-like sound from
a certain distance (the distance can be 30-40 m or from one hill to another).
The male repeats this sound for 4-5 times in 5 min and then approaches to the
females. When the female sees the male chasing her, she quickly runs away. This
chasing is repeated for 3-5 times and in the end he female gives up and allows
for mating activity. The males firstly mated with the youngest female and lastly
with the oldest female. One male was observed to mate with 3-4 females in a
In mating season, during the mating activity, the groups gather and make larger
flocks. In these flocks, while the oldest male chases a female to mate with,
young males lead the flock; the females and the kinds are in the middle; middle-aged
males walk in the backmost of the flock. While, the strong male mates with a
female, middle-aged ones try to mate with other middle aged females. Apart from
courtship and mating chases, young males, females and kids, aged males wander
in separate groups.
After mating, the males visit the female groups they mated with for approximately
1 month and then travel to the areas where they spend the summer. It is quite
difficult to see these males in summer because in summer they do not leave their
hiding places expect for 10-15 min before the sunset and 10-15 min before it
gets fully dark.
Depending on the climatic conditions, it was found that the most appropriate
time for inventory studies for wild goats in summer was the first week of August
and the first week of December in winter. It was found that in the last week
of December, heavy snow began in the area and that had a negative effect on
the observations. Thus, it is thought that inventory in these recommended dates
will make observing the species easier and will shorten counting duration and
thus will reduce counting costs.
The counting indicated that there was a 50% decrease in population size in
winter. The reason for this can be that the kids of 5-6 months old generally
hide in winter, do not take part in mating and thus are difficult to see.
These observations indicated that wild goats mostly preferred the shadowy areas
amongst closed stands and kermes oak communities for feeding and resting, however
did not prefer to wander in sunny areas expect for running away to changing
location. This result indicates that during observation activities, these sections
should be observed more frequently.
In the study area births start between May-July. Therefore, counting of the
kids should start by the end of June and should be completed before September,
because 4 months after birth, the kids almost reach the size of 1-year old individuals
and it becomes difficult to distinguish them.
The hunters generally prefer mating season for hunting. It is known that the
most important mortality factor in the area was illegal hunting. As hunting
wild goats is rather difficult, instead of hunting after following the animals,
the hunters wait for a long time for the wild goats to come in caves. The hunters
generally prefer mating season for hunting. In this period, solitary males,
which do not generally leave the forest daringly, wander in the field for mating.
In hunting of solitary males, especially foggy and rainy days are important
for conservation activities. Since these weather conditions make approaching
to the animal easier, the hunters generally prefer these times for hunting.
Thus, especially in reproduction season, field conservation can be applied in
these kinds of weather conditions.
Gundogdu and Ogurlu (2009) reported that in the flock
the male first chose to mate with the youngest females and reserve other females.
The reason for this behavior was thought to be the fact that relatively older
females still milked their kids so the males mate with these females at a later
period. The same results were determined in our study as well.
In our study the ratio of infertile females was found to be 12%. In their study,
Korshunov (1994) reported an infertility ratio of 20%.
So, this infertility ratio observed in this area can be considered to be rational.
Korshunov (1994) reported that they have found that
lifespan of wild goats in their natural habitat was 10-12 years based on the
horns, but the oldest horn they ever found was 11 years old. Also, Korshunov
(1994) indicated that under captivity, wild goats lived until 14 years old.
The sources in Turkey estimate that wild goats live for 15-20 years. But, Gundogdu
and Ogurlu (2009) reported that the oldest horn they ever found was 11 years
old in Isparta. The oldest wild goat was determined 11 years old in the study
area as well. Consequently, the data we obtained in the present study are consistent
with the data of Korshunov (1994) and Gundogdu
and Ogurlu (2009).
We would like to offer our thanks to the technical personnel in East Mediterranean
Forestry Research Institution and Tarsus Department of Nature Protection and
National Parks who made great contributions throughout this study (Especially
thanks to Dr. Ersin Yilmaz, Dr. Huseyin Fakir, Abdulkadir Yildizbakan, Hatice
Ulusoy and Cem Akgun). Also, this study supported by The Ministry of Environment
and Forest Research Project Directorate Unit.