Fun Facts About the Ibex

Credit: Peter Wey | Shutterstock

The term ibex refers to several species of goats that live in the wild in Southern Europe, Central Asia and Northern Africa.  They are closely related to domesticated and wild goats but are not in the same genus as the Rocky Mountain Goat of North America.

Ibex are very agile and can easily climb mountainous terrain with their strong, cloven hoofs. They resemble a domestic goat but can be distinguished by their very long, curved horns.  Today, one can find nine species of ibex including the Spanish ibex, Alpine ibex, wild goat and Caucasian Tur. They are typically brown or gray in coloring. They can be up to 5 feet (1.5 meters) tall and have been known to weigh more than 200 pounds (91 kg).

The ibex survives on the sparse vegetation that grows in mountainous and desert terrains. Ibex live in small herds with about 20 members. They establish dominance by horn displays and clashing.

Other facts about the ibex

Two young ibex
Credit: Peter Wey | Shutterstock

The horns of the male ibex can be over 3.2 feet (1 meter) long.

Both male and female ibexes have horns. The male has horns that are longer and heavily ridged, curving upward, backward and then downward.

The ibex has a suction-like hoof that helps it climb onto very steep, rocky surfaces.

The low nutritional value of their diet means the ibex must spend much of the day eating.

In the summertime the ibex need to drink every few days so they seek out regions near permanent water sources.

The Nubian ibex is the smallest of the species. Both males and females have a shaggy beard.

By the beginning of the 19th century many species of Ibex were practically extinct. They were hunted because many thought their horns had healing and magical properties.

A Pyrenean subspecies became extinct on January 6, 2000. A project to clone the animal produced one success in 2009 but the animal died a few minutes after birth.  It was the first clone of an extinct animal to be created.

Other resources:

IUCN Red List - Capra aegagrus

IUCN Red List - Capra

San Diego Zoo - Goats

BBC Nature - Ibex

Dallas Zoo - Nubian ibex

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