Behaviour

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It is diurnal in winter, and nocturnal in summer. Shy and retiring, it has a keen sense of smell and hearing. It is perfectly designed to move over rugged terrain and scale almost sheer walls of rock.

Highly gregarious, it forms large groups of either females and their offspring, or males. Although it does not migrate, it journeys widely during winter.

Males and females live in separate flocks for most of the year. The flocks of males are led by the predominant male in the hierarchy who, strangely enough, does not lead the flock when they are moving. Instead a younger male almost always leads, followed by the old male. The females form flocks with their offspring led by an old female, who usually stands guard while the others graze.

Only during the mating season (October-November) do the two groups join so that the dominant male can mate with the females. If the hierarchy is challenged, the two males contenders settle the matter by fighting, butting their foreheads together. Although the sound of the horns clashing together can be heard from a long way off, these are not fights to the death: the fight ending when one of the contenders withdraws. After the mating season has ended, the flocks become single sex again.

The young are born between May and April and normally each female has one kid. It is then that the young males are expelled from the matriarchal flock and must join a flock of males, while the females remain in the maternal flock.