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The Tur or Caucasian Tur, also known as the Caucasian ibex, is a mammal of the goat family residing in the western portion of the Caucasus mountain region of Russia between about 2500 and 1300 feet elevations. Listed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), with estimates of its current population from 1000 to 5000 resulting mainly from anthropogenic causes, it is testimony to the manner in which man is destroying the Earth and making it uninhabitable for any species other than man.[1][2]

Some disagreement exists as to whether one or two species of Tur are present. Some scientists believe that two species of Turs exist, the East Caucasian (Capra cylindricornis) and the West Caucasian species (Capra caucasica). Other scientists lump both of those into the same species. [3]

Size, eating, herding and migration

The Tur live in a narrow band of mountainous terrain east of the Black Sea stretching east-southeastward from Sochi to Georgia. The adult Tur can be as tall as 1 meter with a weight of 145 pounds. Nocturnal feeders, they are herbivores, eating grasses and leaves. The males and females segregate into small herds, with a November to January mating season. In the winter the herds migrate downslope for food and in the summer they migrate upslope.

Population decline

Although they are prey for members of the cat and bear families native to the region, including wolves, lynx, leopards, and brown bears, by far the greatest cause of their population decline is anthropogenic.

The population is categorized by the IUCN as “declining.” The total population estimate in the late 1980s was estimated by researcher P. Weinberg to be about 12,000 animals, but in recent years numbers have been declining significantly, with estimates of their population in 2001, numbers being perhaps half of that number, 6000 to 10,000.

The population inhabiting only the westernmost part of the Caucasus is small. About 2000 to 2500 Tur resides in the Caucasus Biosphere Nature Reserve until 2015, but more recent data indicate growth to more than 3000 in 2016-2017.

In Georgia the decline is more severe. In the 1990s, 2500 animals were estimated, but in the 2000s only 1000 animals. However, data published in 2018 show that just about 100 Western Tur survive in Georgia. It has been suggested that such different figures may result from a varying approach to Tur taxonomy.

The total population was given at 5000-6000 animals by Weinberg in 2004, compared to a 2019 estimate of 4000-5000 Tur. A 2010 paper by Weinberg and his collaborators indicates that the latter estimate might be faulty, resulting not only from an actual decrease but also due to a different taxonomic approach. If so, the apparent decline from 6000-10,000 in 2001 to 4000-5000 in 2019 would not be accurate.

Anthropogenic causes of population decline

The anthropogenic causes listed by the IUCN for the severe population decline are the typical ones.

1. Habitat loss as man clears land for livestock farming and ranching.

2. Habitat loss from logging.

3. Sport. The endangered tur is hunted and trapped by Russian “sportsmen.”

4. Climate change. The temperature extremes stress the population, leading both to infant and adult death and inability to reproduce.


  1. ^ https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/3794/22143809
  2. ^ Weinberg, P. 2020. Capra caucasica. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2020: e.T3794A22143809. https://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2020-2.RLTS.T3794A22143809.en. Downloaded on 26 July 2021
  3. ^ https://animals.net/tur/