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An Ultimate Ungulate Fact Sheet
Naemorhedus baileyi
Red goral
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Naemorhedus baileyi [Pocock, 1914].
Citation: J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc., 23:32.
Type locality: China, Tibet, "Dre on banks of Yigrong Tso (Lake) in Po Me [Bomi]. 9,000 ft [2743 m]".

The taxonomic record (above) is taken from Wilson and Reeder (2005). The spelling of the genus of gorals is rather inconsistent; although Naemorhedus is now considered to be correct, it is also seen as Nemorhaedus or (less frequently) Naemorhaedus, Nemorhedus, Nemorrhaedus, or Nemorrhedus (Wilson and Reeder, 2005). While several authors group all gorals into a single species (Naemorhedus goral), the red goral is now generally regarded to be a valid species. The range of this species neatly separates the range of N. goral in the Himalayas from that of N. caudatus and N. griseus in eastern China (Groves and Grubb, 1985).

There are two tentative subspecies; the Tibetan red goral N. baileyi baileyi from Chinese Tibet and the Burmese red goral N. b. cranbrooki from Assam and Upper Myanmar (Groves and Grubb, 1985). These two subspecies were originally described as separate species and one may still find current references to N. cranbrooki as a valid species, although it is generally considered to be synonymous with N. baileyi (Wilson and Reeder, 2005). Unfortunately, great confusion has resulted from this synonymy. There is virtually no further information available on animals which resemble the type specimen of N. baileyi, and thus many reports of red goral from China use the name N. (b.) cranbrooki when discussing red-colored gorals, based on morphological similarities to Hayman's description (1961). However, if geography is the principal differentiation between the tentative subspecies (as per Groves and Grubb, 1985), Chinese accounts of N. cranbrooki should be taken as referring to N. b. baileyi, rather than the implied N. b. cranbrooki. This situation has not been resolved.

Interestingly, when describing the type specimen for N. cranbrooki, Hayman (1961) raised the possibility that cranbrooki and baileyi might represent the same species due to the proximity in ranges, suggesting (and then discounting) that the deeper red coloration of cranbrooki (from specimens collected from February to April) might be the winter pelage, and the browner coat of baileyi (type specimen collected in July) the summer coat.

Physical Characteristics

The red goral is a geographically-isolated form of goral, and the smallest of the presently recognized species (Hayman, 1961; Rabinowitz, 1999). Body weights range from 20-30 kg, while the length of the head and body is approximately 100 cm. Records of captive animals show that females tend to be slightly larger than males, although there is otherwise very little difference between the sexes (Zhang, 1987).

Reported measurements for red goral (Naemorhedus baileyi)
Source Adult Weight Head & Body Length Shoulder Height Tail Length
Hayman, 1961
for N. cranbrooki
- 97.5 cm
57.5 cm
10 cm
Hla Aung, 1967
for N. cranbrooki
28.1 kg
99 cm
43 cm
Nowak, 1991
for Nemorhaedus
22-35 kg 82-130 cm 57-78.5 cm 8-20 cm
Pocock, 1914
for N. baileyi
- 108.6 cm
64.1 cm
8.3 cm
Rabinowitz, 1999 - - - 7.0 cm
Sheng Helin et al., 1999
for N. cranbrooki
20-30 kg 93-103 cm 57-61 cm 10-12 cm
Zhang, 1987
for N. cranbrooki
22.6-28.6 kg
27.5-30.6 kg
93-97 cm
95-103 cm
57-59 cm
59-61 cm
10.3-12.0 cm

The coat of the type specimen of N. (b.) baileyi, described by Pocock (1914), is a uniform dark brown without the grizzling (dark bands on individual hairs) seen in other gorals. As a result of this coloration, the type specimen is sometimes referred to as the "brown goral". The sides and belly are paler than the back, while the insides of thighs and the groin are dirty white. A black stripe extends down the spine from the crown of the head to the tail. Black patches are present on the front surfaces of the forelegs, while two white patches mark the chest near the bases of the forelegs. The tail of the type specimen is short and mostly black. There is a dark patch on the bridge of the nose above the rhinarium, and the upper and lower lips have a narrow white rim. A very small white "bib" patch is present on the upper throat.

Apart from this isolated record, descriptions of the red goral are very consistent across the species' range; there are many similarities with Pocock's description of N. baileyi, but some significant differences as well. As the name suggests, the pelage of the red goral is an overall reddish-brown or bright foxy-red; it is typically long, soft, and quite shaggy (Hayman, 1961; Hla Aung, 1967; Zhang, 1987; Sheng Helin et al., 1999). Each hair is light brown at the base and is tipped with red (Hayman, 1961). The upper back and sides are typically darker and deeper in color, and a black stripe about 2 cm wide runs along the mid-dorsal line the spine from the top of the head to the tip of the tail. The undersides are lighter than the back, typically a light buff color (Hayman, 1961; Zhang, 1987; Sheng Helin et al., 1999). The color deepens on the lower throat and chest to a rich chestnut red; a narrow black patch may be present on the chest and in some individuals this extends as a dark stripe down the midline of the belly (Hayman, 1961; Zhang, 1987). The scrotum of males is white (Hayman, 1961). The legs are colored the same foxy-red as the body and typically lack the black patches described by Pocock (1914) (Hayman, 1961).

The dark dorsal stripe extends and expands onto the tail, which is mostly black (Hayman, 1961; Hla Aung, 1967). The tail of N. baileyi is much shorter than that of other gorals, rarely measuring over 10 cm (Zhang, 1987; Rabinowitz, 1999; Sheng Helin et al., 1999). The hair on the tail is long, and forms a terminal tuft approximately 12.7 cm long (Hayman, 1961).

The face of the red goral is relatively uniform in color, being of a slightly more tawny color than the body (Hayman, 1961). A forelock of long black-based hairs occurs on the forehead - the crest is especially dark between the horns (Hayman, 1961). In striking contrast to this dark crest, a small white spot is often present between the horns on the crown of the head; this spot tends to be very prominent in young animals but then fades with maturity (Hayman, 1961; Hla Aung, 1967; Zhang, 1987). On the bridge of the nose, just above the rhinarium (moist part of the muzzle), is a dark patch which is also seen in Pocock's type specimen for N. baileyi (Hayman, 1961). The margins of the upper and lower lips are whitish, while the rest of the lips are dark (Hayman, 1961). Under the chin is a small dark brown interramal patch (Hayman, 1961). Most goral species have a large white patch on the upper throat; this is generally absent in red goral (Hayman, 1961; Hla Aung, 1967), although some authors (e.g. Zhang, 1987) report that the throat is paler than the rest of the body. There is no distinct mane on the neck (Zhang, 1987; Sheng Helin et al., 1999). The ears of the red goral are shorter than other gorals, with a fawn outer surface and white insides (Hayman, 1961; Hla Aung, 1967). Groves and Grubb (1985) write that the skull of N. baileyi is intermediate between other gorals and serows; Zhang (1987) gives an overview of skull measurements from ten specimens.

Both sexes have a pair of short, arcing black horns, which have an average curvature of 18o - a greater curve than those of N. goral (Zhang, 1987; Rabinowitz, 1999; Sheng Helin et al., 1999). The horns bear transverse ridges (an average of eight per horn) along most of their length, with the horns of males typically having more rings than females (Rabinowitz, 1999). The tips are smooth and sharp (Sheng Helin et al., 1999). Horn lengths for both sexes typically fall within the range of 7.5-16 cm, averaging 11.2 cm along the outer curve in specimens examined by Rabinowitz (1999, see also Sheng Helin et al., 1999). Horns of males tend to be slightly longer than those of females (12.5-16 cm compared to 7.5-15 cm, respectively), as well as being thicker, more curved, and more widely-spaced (Zhang, 1987; Rabinowitz, 1999). The basal circumference of the horns averages 6.8 cm (range of 4.3-9.4 cm), and the tip-to-tip spread averages 6.5 cm (range of 2.8-11.8 cm) (Rabinowitz, 1999).

Reproduction and Development

Breeding occurs in December (or, as Xie (2006) reports, September to November), and frequent copulation is observed while the female is in estrus (Zhang, 1987; Sheng Helin et al., 1999). The gestation period is about 6 months in length (Zhang, 1987; Sheng Helin et al., 1999); Duckworth and MacKinnon (2008) give a gestation range from 170-218 days. The single offspring is typically born in June or July, although births earlier in the season (April) have been recorded (Zhang, 1987). At the Shanghai Zoo, weaning occurs at 3.5 months (Zhang, 1987).

Sexual maturity of captive individuals occurs at 1.5 years for females (giving birth at two years of age), while males begin to demonstrate rutting behavior at three years. The estrus cycle is 17-23 days in length, and 10-20 copulation attempts may occur during the female's period of sexual receptiveness, which lasts for 6 to 72 hours (Zhang et al., 1993 in Xie, 2006). Life span is approximately 15 years (Duckworth and MacKinnon, 2008).


N. baileyi lives at higher elevations compared to other gorals, typically at altitudes of 2,000-4,500 meters (Zhang, 1987; Rabinowitz, 1999; Sheng Helin et al., 1999). The region in which they live is topographically complex and has abundant rainfall: 2000 mm annually, which falls primarily from May to August (Zhang, 1987). This region supports one of the largest tracts of primitive coniferous woodland in Asia, which is the primary habitat for the red goral (Zhang, 1987; Wang Sung et al., 1997; Sheng Helin et al., 1999).

In the summer, red goral are found in the upper margins of forests, often being sighted above the treeline in meadows and thickets (Zhang, 1987; Sheng Helin et al., 1999). As the snowline creeps lower in winter, red goral undertake a seasonal migration, moving to lower-elevation mixed deciduous and coniferous forests or glades and thickets below the snow line (Zhang, 1987; Zhang, 1991 in Wang Sung et al., 1997; Sheng Helin et al., 1999). Locals report that red goral are most frequently observed at lower elevations from November through to March, returning to higher altitudes in April (Rabinowitz, 1999).

Early reports of this species in the field indicated a remarkable "tameness", in that they could be closely approached by humans without fleeing (see Hayman, 1961). This is likely explained by their lack of exposure to humans due to the ruggedness and remoteness of their habitat, as gorals have a general reputation of being extremely shy and tough to approach (Hayman, 1961). With high levels of hunting at the present time, it is unlikely that N. baileyi remains this fearless. Leopards and jackals appear to be the principal predators for this species (Zhang, 1987).

Lichens are a primary food source for N. baileyi, especially Usnea species (Zhang, 1987). Grasses and weeds, plus tender stems, leaves, and twigs from shrubs, are all eaten, but no detailed study of the dietary habits of this species have yet been performed (Zhang, 1987; Sheng Helin et al., 1999). At the Shanghai Zoo, red goral were fed grasses and leaves from Ulmus pumila, Poulownia fortunei, and Sophora japonica (Zhang, 1987). This species usually drinks daily in the early morning prior to foraging (Zhang, 1987).


N. baileyi is primarily diurnal, with most activity occurring in the early morning and evening (Sheng Helin et al., 1999). During the day, red goral graze on sunny slopes, retreating to rocky cliffs at night where they bed down on sheltered ledges (Zhang, 1987; Sheng Helin et al., 1999). As with most members of the Caprinae, red goral are very agile and move with easy speed amongst rough terrain (Hla Aung, 1967; Zhang, 1987). A captive female in Rangoon Zoo was observed jumping over a 1.8 meter high fence from a standing start (Hla Aung, 1967). This species retreats up cliffs when threatened (Zhang, 1987).

Red goral are primarily solitary, although females tend to be accompanied by their latest youngster (Zhang, 1987; Sheng Helin et al., 1999). N. baileyi is occasionally seen in small groups, typically with three animals. The composition of these groups is usually a male along with a female and her offspring, or a female with her offspring from the previous two years (Zhang, 1987). Individuals occupy home ranges which are approximately 40 hectares in size; during the late autumn breeding season, males hold marked territories 22-25 hectares in size (Duckworth and MacKinnon, 2008).

The behavior of this species during the breeding season (September to November) is presented by Xie (2006). During the rut, males will follow females closely, being in frequent naso-genital contact (often accompanied by smelling and licking) in order to determine the onset of estrus. Non-receptive females will either flee from the advances of males or threaten them by butting the body of the male with their head. Receptive females tend to stand still as the male approaches, signalling their estrus by raising the tail. Flehmen (lip curl) was observed during the majority of encounters between a male and a receptive female.

A "zer . . . zer" or "ze-ze-ze" call - made by males during breeding season to attract females - is one of the few reported vocalizations (Zhang, 1987; Xie, 2006). Xie (2006) also noted that females produce a whistling noise (audible to humans at 500 meters) upon approach of a male conspecific.


The full karyotype for N. b. cranbrooki is presented in Huang et al. (2005); 2n = 56 for this species.


Red goral are endemic to the region where the borders of India, Myanmar, and China meet (Groves and Grubb, 1985). In China, N. baileyi inhabits northwest Yunnan Province and southeastern Xizang (Tibet), including the prefectures of Boni, Nying, Mainling, and Medog (Wang Sung et al., 1997; Sheng Helin et al., 1999). Outside of China, it is found in Kachin State of Myanmar and northeastern Arunachal Pradesh in India (Fox and Johnsingh, 1997; Salter, 1997).

Countries: China, India, Myanmar (Duckworth and MacKinnon, 2008).

Range Map
(Compiled from Fox and Johnsingh, 1997; Salter, 1997; Wang Sung et al., 1997)

Conservation Status

N. baileyi is classified as vulnerable [criteria A2cd] by the IUCN (Duckworth and MacKinnon, 2008), and both subspecies individually bear this designation. This species is listed on Appendix I of CITES (2009). The world population of this species is estimated to be less than 10,000 animals, and is likely considerably less (Duckworth and MacKinnon, 2008). From data collected in 1987 and 1988, the Tibetan population of this species was estimated to number between 810 and 1,370 animals (see Wang Sung et al., 1997). Numbers in India and Myanmar are unknown, but due to the restricted range of this species they are unlikely to be common (Duckworth and MacKinnon, 2008). Hunting is a major threat to the continued survival of this species; Rabinowitz (1999) reports that it is the most heavily-harvested ungulate in its range. Habitat loss - due to forestry practices and clearing for agriculture - also poses a major threat (Wang Sung et al., 1997; Duckworth and MacKinnon, 2008). Red goral inhabit several protected regions, including Hkakabo-Razi National Park in Myanmar, and Gangxiang, Muotuo, Xiaca, and Medoq in Tibet (Rabinowitz, 1999; Wang Sung et al., 1997). There is a small captive breeding group in the Shanghai Zoo (Wang Sung et al., 1997).


The genus Naemorhedus is derived from the Latin words nemus (genitive nemoris), meaning "forest", and haedus, meaning a young goat. The spelling used here is the original spelling of the genus. However, the alternative Nemorhaedus is also frequently seen, and is considered by some to be in prevailing usage.

This species is named after Lieutenant-Colonel F. M. Bailey, who explorer the "frontier region" extensively prior to the first World War. While he collected the brown type specimen for N. b. baileyi, he also made note of bright red goral-skin coats made by locals in the Mishmi Hills (see Hayman, 1961). The first "red" specimen was collected by the Earl of Cranbrook in upper Burma along with Captain F. Kingdon Ward in 1931. Although an unusual specimen, no formal description or name was given to this new red goral until 1961. This description was jump-started by the procurement of a rug composed of three red skins of an unidentified species by H. L. Cooper of Guernsey. The skins in the rug, while somewhat faded, closely resembled the Earl of Cranbrook's skin, leading Hayman (1961) to name this (sub)species after the Earl.

Goral is a native name from eastern India (Gotch, 1995).

Local names
Chi Ban Ling [Phonetic Chinese]
Ra-mar [Tibetan - http://www.tew.org/wildlife/wildlife.species.html]
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