Musk Ox

A shaggy, bovine, highly-specialised behemoth and contemporary of the mammoth, the Musk Ox is the only terrestrial herbivore with a range restricted to Arctic ice and tundra. It takes its name for the strong scent males exude to attract mates and wanders the upper Arctic from Canada and Greenland, across to the islands off northern Russia; after long term overhunting its population has recovered and been reintroduced widely.  In addition to the warmth of their enormously thick coat, Musk Ox survive by minimizing energy expenditure; they move slowly through a restricted range, feeding and resting on alternating days. They are easily domesticated, their meat is delicious and their wool is highly prized for its softness, length and warmth. Their innate defence mechanism is to stand closely packed in a circle around their calves – it’s effective against wolves, but not so hunters. However, it means that should you disturb them while they graze they’ll line up for a great wide-angle photo!

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