The takin also called cattle chamois or gnu goat, is a goat-antelope found in the eastern Himalayas.
The takin live in elevations from 1,000 and 4,500 meters (3,300 and 14,800 feet). The habitat ranges from rocky, grass covered alpine zones to forested valleys.
There are four subspecies of takin: the Mishmi takin; the Shaanxi takin or golden takin; the Tibetan or Sichuan takin and the Bhutan takin.
The takin stand 97 to 140 cm (38 to 55 in) at the shoulder, but measure a relatively short 160 to 220 cm (63 to 87 in) in head-and-body length; and weighs up to 350 kg (770 pounds). The males are slightly larger than females.
The coat is whitish yellow to golden yellow to reddish brown, and has a dark stripe down the back.
In profile, it has a convex nose; both sexes have heavy horns that turn outward from the center of the forehead and then curve up and backward.
This species lives in large herds of up to 300 individuals in the upper elevations during the summer, and up to 20 members in the smaller bands that form during winter months. The older males are usually solitary and spend only the mating months with a group.
Takin feed in the early morning and late afternoon, grazing on a variety of leaves and grasses, as well as bamboo shoots and flowers. They have been observed standing on their hind legs to feed on leaves over 3.1 m (10 ft) high. Salt is also an important part of their diets, and groups may stay at a mineral deposit for several days.
If the tastiest leaves are out of reach, takins have been known to use their powerful bodies to push over small trees to bring those leaves closer!
When disturbed, individuals give a ‘cough’ alarm call and the herd retreats into thick bamboo thickets and lies on the ground for camouflage.
They are generally slow moving but can react quickly if angered or frightened.
Takins migrate from the upper pasture to lower, more forested areas in winter and favor sunny spots upon sunrise.
Mating in this species occurs in July and August. Gestation lasts around 7 or 8 months. Only one young is conceived during each pregnancy, and it usually weighs between 5 and 7 kg at birth. The young are able to follow their mother around within 3 days of birth, and they start to eat solid food after the first one or two months of life.
The golden takin and the Mishmi takin are endangered, and the Sichuan takin and White’s takin are vulnerable.
Takins, like giant pandas, are considered national treasures in China.
The takin was formerly thought to be close to the musk ox because of the two animals’ similarity in appearance, but recent DNA studies have placed the takin closer to sheep.