Takin - Biology

Biology

Takin are found in small family groups of around 20 individuals, although older males may lead a more solitary existence. In the summer months, herds of up to 300 individuals gather high up on the mountain slopes. Groups often appear to occur in largest numbers when favorable feeding sites, salt-licks or hot springs are located. Mating takes place between 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. Takin migrate from the upper pasture to lower, more forested areas in winter and favor sunny spots upon sunrise. When disturbed, individuals will give a 'cough' alarm call and the herd will retreat into thick bamboo thickets and lie on the ground for camouflage.

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

They overlap in range with multiple potential natural predators, including the Asiatic black bear and the leopard and (more seldom) tigers, gray wolves and dholes. Anecdotally, both bears and wolves have been reported to prey on takin when they can, which is likely given the opportunistic nature of those predators. However the only confirmed natural predator of takin is the snow leopard, although mature adults may be exempted from regular predation (due to their size) from that predator. The main predator of takin are humans, who hunt them usually for meat (considered delicious by local people), though secondarily for their pelts. Humans have long since exploited takin's fondness for salt-licks, where they are easily cornered and killed. Takins are likely still occasionally killed.

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