Sunday, February 21, 2016

Mongolia 2013
Wildlife Protection 2014 - Argali - Ovis ammon

4th coin of WILDLIFE PROTECTION series.

With the Argali, the prizewinning series Mongolian Wild Animals has found a worthy successor. The silver coin shows the Ovis ammon minted in a fantastic relief, adorned with two mocca Swarovski Elements.

The coin obverse portrays an argali depicted with SWAROVSKI® ELEMENTS crystals for eyes, on bottom there are the legend "Endangered Wildlife", the latin name for the species and the year of issue 2013. Issued by National Bank of Mongolia, on coin reverse the State Coat of Arms and the coin value, "500 Togrog".

Argali (Ovis ammon) is the largest species of wild sheep. The North American bighorn sheep may approach comparable weights but is normally considerably outsized by the argali. Argali stand 85 to 135 cm (3 to 4 ft) high at the shoulder and measure 136 to 200 cm (4 to 7 ft) long from the head to the base of the tail. The female, or ewe is the smaller sex by a considerable margin, sometimes weighing less than half as much as the male, or ram. 

The ewes can weigh from 43.2 to 100 kg (95 to 220 lb) and the rams typically from 97 to 182 kg (214 to 401 lb), with a maximum reported mass of 216 kg (476 lb). The Pamir argali (also called Marco Polo sheep, for they were first described by that traveler), O. a. polii, is the largest race on average, regularly measuring more than 180 cm (5.9 ft) long without the tail, and is less sexually dimorphic in body mass than most other subspecies. The argali has relatively the shortest tail of any wild goat-antelope or sheep, with reported tail lengths of 9.5–17 cm (3.7–6.7 in).

The general coloration varies between each animal, from a light yellow to a reddish-brown to a dark grey-brown. Argali or nyan from the Himalayas are usually relatively dark, whereas those from Russian ranges are often relatively pale. In summertime, the coat is often lightly spotted with a salt-and-pepper pattern. The back is darker than the sides, which gradually lighten in color. The face, tail and the buttocks are yellowish-white. The male has a whitish neck ruff and a dorsal crest and is usually slightly darker in color than the female. Males have two large corkscrew horns, some measuring 190 cm (6.2 ft) in total length and weighing up to 23 kg (51 lb). Males use their horns for competing with one another. Females also carry horns, but they are much smaller, usually measuring less than 50 cm (20 in) in total length.

Argali are considered an endangered or threatened (2014) species throughout their entire range, due largely to habitat loss from overgrazing of domestic sheep and hunting. As the world's largest sheep, the lure to gather a trophy specimen is strong among sports-hunters. They are hunted for both their meat and their horns, used in traditional Chinese medicine, and poaching continues to be a major (and difficultly managed) problem. Argali have been extirpated from northeastern China, southern Siberia, and parts of Mongolia. Populations of predators such as gray wolves and snow leopards have appeared to have been negatively affected by the scarcity of argali.

In Pakistan-administered Kashmir it is listed as an endangered species.