Rare Takin spotted first time in Taksang village of Tawang Dist

By A O News Service

ITANAGAR, May 28: In an unprecedented event, takins also known as gnu goats, locally known as Kemya in Monpa language, were sighted for first time in Tawang district, brining excitement and awe to local community.

The first sighting was a group of takins near Taksang village, about 22-km from Tawng, whose residents captured the encounter on video and the footage went viral on social media quickly.

Another sighting occurred earlier this month near Chhamling Tso Lake, where a lone takin, possibly separated from its herd, was spotted.

Lumla MLA Tsering Lhamu, whose constituency includes Zemithang, in a social media post wrote, “I am thrilled to learn that our beautiful region has been graced by the presence of takins.”

“Their majestic appearance has left us in awe, and I believe this sighting brings blessings and good fortune to our community,” she added.

This follows frequent sightings of takins in Dibang Valley district, where the Mishmi takin subspecies is a popular draw for researchers worldwide.

The takin (Budorcas taxicolor ) also called cattle chamois, is a large species of ungulate of the subfamily Caprinae found in Eastern Himalayas. It includes four subspecies: the Mishmi takin, goden takin, Tibetan or Sichuan takin and Bhutan takin. The takin is the national animal of Bhutan.

Its specific name  comes from Latin: taxus (badger) and color (hue) referring to badger-like coloration.

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. 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 long, but can grow up to 64 cm. Its long, shaggy coat is light in color with a dark stripe along the back and males also have dark faces.

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 Sichaun Province to mostly golden or (rarely) creamy-white with fewer black hairs in Shaanxi Province.

The legend of ‘golden fleece’ sought by Jason and Argonauts may have been inspired by the lustrous coat of golden takin. Hair length can range from 3 cm on the flanks of the body in summer, up to 24 cm on the underside of the head in winter.

In height, takin stand 97 to 140 cm at the shoulder, but measure a relatively short 160–220 cm in head-and-body length, with the tail adding only an additional 12 to 21.6 cm. The males are slightly larger, weighing 300–350 kg against 250–300 kg in females. Sources including Betham (1908) report that females are larger, with the largest captive takin known to the author at 322 kg having been female. Takin can weigh up to 400 kg or 600 kg in some cases.

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. A prominent nose with a swollen appearance caused biologist George Schaller to liken the takin to a “bee-stung moose.” Features reminiscent of familiar domesticated species have earned takins such nicknames as “cattle chamois” and “gnu goat.”

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

Takins 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. 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. When disturbed, individuals give a ‘cough’ alarm call and the herd retreats into thick bamboo thickets and lies 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 hind legs to feed on leaves over 10 ft high. Salt is also an important part of their diets, and groups may stay at a mineral deposit for several days.

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 Tachilek market, total 89 sets of horns were observed openly for sale.

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