Número 14 | September 2007

The barbary sheep, a very important trophic resource in the current Sierra Espuña

The Regional Park of Sierra Espuña has six wild species of animal subject to hunting management, such as the barbary sheep and the wild boar. The introduction of the barbary sheep in the park was made between 1970 and 1972. There from, its population has been increasing gradually and now there are 920 individuals estimated in the reserve in 2005. The whole population in the regional park is around 1.200. The resultant corpses from barbary sheep hunting is a trophic resource, which is forms a very important food source for predators and scavenging carnivores, therefore plays a role in the vertebrate food chain and in the maintenance of the ecosystem. Though in this case, despite the importance, it has only been properly researched in a few national parks; Yellowstone, Serengueti, Bialowieza and now, Sierra Espuña.The aims of this study are to analyse the availability of the barbary sheep´ carcases for carnivorous vertebrates; analyse the functional importance of the carcases for general predators, evaluate the function of the carcases in the golden eagle diet and to evaluate the function of the carcases in the preservation and in the management strategies in the Regional Park of Sierra Espuña.
During the period of this study, monitoring equipment has been used to detect the site of the sheep and when it dies, the carcase can be located within the park. Furthermore, this work has distributed strategically the carrion in regular hunting periods and during the months of May and June to evaluate its use in the golden eagle breeding time.
During the development of the project, from december 2005 till october 2006, there have been located 68 barbary sheep carcases, three of wild boar and two from dogs, besides the slaughterhouse remains provided by the working team during the winter time.
El águila real es uno de los principales consumidores de carroña de arruí en Sierra Espuña
Grupo de arruis
Roquedos de Sierra Espuña
Trampa fotográfica para la recogida de datos