Urial (A type of wild Sheep – Ovis. vignei. punjabiensis) which was facing serious threat of extinction in Pakistan, the has made a remarkable comeback in the past decade mainly owing to strict conservation efforts by the Punjab wildlife department that include communication through mobile phone and security pickets in its habitat areas.
According to Punjab Wild life department estimates the total Urial population is around 2,500 in salt range of the district Mianwali, Chakwal, Jhehlum and Khushab whereas a small population of Urial dwell in the Kala-Chitta range in district Attock. The officials attribute the growth in Urial population to strengthening of the enforcement force in the wildlife department.
Pakistan is the last place towards the East where Urial is found in its natural habitat, and Punjab has the highest population of Urial in the region whereas the other two categories are Laddakh Urial and the Afghan Urial found also in Balochistan in the bordering districts.
Considered as the ancestor of modern sheep, Urial’s natural habitat is Central Asia ranging from Iran, western Kazakhstan, Afghanistan Ladakh, and Pakistan, where it is mainly found in northern Punjab.
Urial males have large horns, curling outwards from the top of the head turning in to end giving it a majestic looks, females have shorter, compressed horns, the generic name of Punjab Urial is Ovis vignei punjabiensis.
While poaching has been controlled in almost all the areas, but there are emerging threats to the Urial population like the increasing competition for food between Urial and the domestic animals, threats of disease due to frequent move ment of domestic animals in the Urial habitat, threats to the forests but the worst of them is lamb lifting by herdsmen as they know the local habitat, and sell it to the local agents between Rs5,000 to Rs10,000.