The European mouflon (Ovis aries musimon) is a wild sheep species native to the mountains of Corsica and Sardinia, and other parts of southern Europe. They have since been introduced to other parts of Europe, including Spain, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom. In Spanish it is called el muflón común or muflón europeo.
Mouflons have a distinctive appearance with short, curved horns and a reddish-brown coat that fades to a lighter color on their underbelly. They have a white rump patch and a dark stripe along their back. Mouflons are sexually dimorphic, with males being larger and having larger, more impressive horns.
(Top image wikipedia De Jörg Hempel, CC BY-SA 3.0 de, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=19287612)
Diet and habits
Mouflons are herbivorous and primarily graze on grasses, herbs, and leaves. They are able to survive in harsh environments and have adapted to living in mountainous terrain. They are also highly adaptable and have been known to thrive in semi-captive environments, such as game reserves and wildlife parks.
Social animals, they live in groups called “harem” groups, consisting of one male and several females. During the mating season, males compete for dominance by ramming their horns together. The females give birth to one or two lambs in the spring after a gestation period of around five months.
In addition to being hunted for sport, mouflons are also hunted for their meat, which is considered to be lean and flavorful. Mouflon populations are considered to be stable, and the species is not currently listed as threatened or endangered.
Mouflons in Spain
The mouflons in Spain are generally found in mountainous areas.
This species has been introduced during the 1970’s to numerous points in the Iberian Peninsula and the Canary Islands for hunting purposes, successfully adapting to new environments. Its distribution area includes mainly parts of Extremadura, Toledo, Ciudad Real and Córdoba, as well as the Serranía de Cuenca and Cazorla and some isolated locations in Valencia. It is also found in Tenerife.
The Spanish mouflon population is estimated to be around 45,000 individuals. Hunting is popular in Spain, and the species is considered a valuable game animal. However, hunting is regulated to ensure sustainable management of the population.
The European mouflon (Ovis aries musimon) in the Sierra de Cazorla
Mouflons can be found in the Sierra de Cazorla, which is a mountain range and natural park located in the province of Jaén, in the region of Andalusia, southern Spain. The Sierra de Cazorla is one of the largest protected areas in Spain and is home to a variety of wildlife, including mouflons, wild boars, deer, and various bird species.
The mouflons in the Sierra de Cazorla are among the most important populations in Andalusia and are actively managed for hunting and conservation purposes. Read more about the sierra de cazorla here: https://wildsideholidays.co.uk/sierra-cazorla-segura-y-las-villas/
Population and threats
Overall, mouflons have adapted well to the Spanish environment, and their populations are considered stable. However, like in other parts of Europe, there is a risk of genetic pollution due to hybridization with domestic sheep, which could threaten the genetic integrity of the mouflon populations. In order to combat this, they are sometimes translocated in order to re-establish populations in areas where numbers are low or to introduce them to new areas.
Wikipedia has an informative updated article: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_mouflon
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