Musk and meat. Using their massive bulk

Musk
Ox are found throughout the Arctic from North America to Greenland
and even in Scandinavia and Russia. They have long, shaggy coats and
thick layers of fat which mean they are well adapted to the freezing
conditions. With the help of their cleverly evolved hooves they roam
the tundra grazing the roots, mosses and lichens that make up most of
their diet. During the summer months they supplement their diet with
arctic flowers and grasses newly exposed by the receding ice.
In
the late 19th
and early 20th
century, Musk Ox were decimated by hunters who killed them for their
hides and meat. Using their massive bulk and large horns the
Ox developed a defence mechanism which involves a circle of adults
surrounding their young that is very effective against their natural
predators, such as arctic wolves. Tragically this engenious method
played right into the hands of human hunters and their dogs who
forced the Ox into this tight circle and then picked them off with
their rifles. Strict hunting regulations were enforced which allowed
numbers to recover somewhat and also reintroductions were made to
places where they had previously died out.

The
Ox’s conservation status is now of ‘least concern’ with the current
world population being between 80,000 and 125,000. Most herds now
reside in National parks and receive protection, with a large
majority of them settling on one of the largest members of the
Canadian Arctic Archipelago, Banks Island. It has also been suggested
that over 40% of the world Musk Ox population live
in the National Park of North and East Greenland (Berthelsen et
al.1993).
There
are now no major threats to the species survival but the herds tend
to be small and widely scattered, which makes them vulnerable to
disease and traditional
subsistence hunting. Sadly, due to the savagery of man, trophy
hunting is
now allowed again, even within the national parks. This is meant to
be under strict regulation but legilslators and enforcers need to
remain vigilante going forward to prevent the existence of these
beautiful creatures once again being threathened.

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