Mouflons on the Aigoual massif

Introduced for hunting in the 1950’s, the European mouflon (Ovis orientalis musimon) , originating in Corsica, has become an iconic animal on the Aigoual massif.

This medium-sized animal doesn’t exceed 75 cm at the shoulder. The ewe is smaller and its coat is less dark. It rarely gives birth to more than one lamb per year, in mid-April. The mouflon lives about 14 years. The age of the males can be determined by the number of the horn rings. In fact, the helix-shaped horns of the rams have a continuous growth. Females have usually no horns.

 

A successful introduction

In 1954, the Federation of Hunting and the water and forestry services introduced a group of 23 mouflons. Since then, the population has increased gradually, even if the animals are hunted. Today, there are about 200 mouflons on the Aigoual massif.

The mouflons stride on the ridges and in the moors. It is difficult to see them, except when they climb on the top of a rock. Open your eyes… and ears! If you hear a short, loud hiss, it is the mouflon’s alarm call. In spring, you can also hear the young mouflons bleating, like domestic lambs.

 

The ancestor of the domestic sheep

The mouflon is the ancestor of the domestic sheep: therefore, the two species are closely related, and graze together on the same grazing lands on the Aigoual massif.

 

A various diet

The mouflon feeds mainly on grass, but can also eat about 100 plant species such as ferns, mosses, mushrooms, broom flowers or chestnuts.

 

Mouflon - Massif de l'Aigoual