The Putorana Sheep is the most westerly subpopulation of the Snow Sheep. The  distribution area lies entirely north of the arctic circle.


English: Putorana Snow Sheep, Noril’sky Snow Sheep, Syverma Snow Sheep

German: Putorana Schneeschaf

French: Mouflon des neiges du Putorana

Spanish: Carnero de las nieves del Putorana


O. n. borealis (Severtzov, 1873)


Westernmost and completely isolated subpopulation in the center of Russia, north of the Arctic Circle. Putorana and Syverma Uplands (1)

Population numbers: 5.500

(extrapolated from various sources, 1997-2010) (1)


The winter coat of rams is said to be uniformly grayish-brown with only the back and the back-side region on the flanks are somewhat lighter than neck, chest and extremities. (1) Other discriptions are useless for being added here since it is not mentioned clearly wether they refer to winter or summer pelage and/or they are contradictory (e.g. the color of the belly is described as retaining the brown color, whereas other sources say that the underparts are white). Maybe revealing is the description of Damm and Franco (2014), saying that „the Putorana subspecies is very similar to the snow sheep of Kamchatka in terms of color.“ (1)


The Putorana and Syverma Uplands are a wild, uninhabited tableland, cut by canyons, rivers, chains of lakes and waterfalls. (1)


Allegedly there are no roads leading into Putorana Nature Reserve (see entry below). Very few reports on tripadvisor (2017) talk of flying in via helicopter. Sheep are not mentioned.

Trophy hunting

Exploratory hunting programs started in the early 1990s and licences were rare even then. Today hunting is only allowed by special permit. (1) states that „getting a hunting permit is nearly impossible“.

The recovery of the Putorana Snow Sheep

During the 1960s, just 30 years after there encounter, these sheep had disappeared from many remote localities, where they were before. Constant persecution by reindeer herders and other rural people hunting for meat had brought their numbers down. By the mid-1970s, the population of the Putorana Snow Sheep was estimated at merely 1.500 individuals. After reindeer herding had been stopped on the plateau, local hunters came to the area less often, which led to a steady population growth. Census held in the mid-1980s revealed that the number of sheep had doubled to more than 3.500 individuals. The Putorana Snow Sheep started re-colonizing the edges of their former habitat. Today (2014) Putorana Snow Sheep are protected in the Putorana Nature Reserve, which represents about 28 percent of the species‘ distribution area. Currently the population stands at about 5.500 individuals. (1)

Literature Cited

(1) Damm, Gerhard R. and Franco, Nicolás, 2014: The CIC Caprinae Atlas of the World – CIC International Council for Game and Wildlife Conservation, Budakeszi, Hungary in cooperation with Rowland Ward Publications RSA (Pty) Ltd., Johannesburg, South Africa.

(2) Harris, R.B. & Tsytsulina. K. 2008. Ovis nivicola. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2008: e.T15740A5076357. Downloaded on 13 February 2017.

(3) Wilson, D.E. and Mittermeier, R.A. [eds], 2011: Handbook of the Mammals of the World. Vol. 2. Hoofed Mammals. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.

(4) Groves, Colin and Grubb, Peter, 2011: Ungulate Taxonomy. The John Hopkins University Press.

(5) Castelló, José R., 2016: Bovids of the World – Antelopes, Gazelles, Cattle, Goats, Sheep, and Relatives. Princton University Press.

(6) Bunch, T. D.; Wu, C.; Zhang, Y.-P; Wang, S., 2005: Phylogenetic Analysis of Snow Sheep (Ovis nivicola) and Closely Related Taxa. Journal of Heredity, Volume 97, Issue 1, January/February 2006.