The term ibex is often used to refer to some of the wild goats in the Capra genus.
These animals are renowned for their curved horns, which are larger in males.
Archeological records of ibex fossils date as early as 1800 BCE, although other evidence of ibex hunting and domestication dates back to around 3400-3100 BCE.
Unfortunately, many species we’ll discuss today are on the brink of extinction due to habitat loss, hunting, and numerous wild predators.
As such, let’s discover more about the wild goat species often referred to as ibexes!
6. Asian Ibex
The Asian ibex (Capra sibirica) also goes by the names of Altai ibex, Gobi ibex, and Himalayan ibex, to name a few.
It’s considered the most widely distributed Capra species but, unfortunately, has been recently assessed as Near Threatened by the IUCN Red List because of hunting, poaching, competition with livestock, and natural predators.
The species is native to Asia, primarily its alpine meadows, high-altitude steppes, and semi-deserts.
Asian ibexes are found almost only above the tree line!
Besides, there are four recognized Asian ibex subspecies which are grouped based on their geographic distribution.
Siberian ibexes reach heights of around 35-43 inches at the shoulders, males being taller than females.
Their weight can vary greatly – some females are as thin as 75 pounds, while some males can reach 290 pounds!
Both males and females have distinctive horns, although those of a female are visibly smaller.
Moreover, they have characteristic circular rings around their horns.
As for the coat color – this depends on their distribution and other factors, but it’s usually between dark brown and light tan.
As already established, Asian ibexes usually live above the treeline.
During the winter, however, they may venture outside their comfort zone to look for food.
Their diet is a combination of alpine herbs and grasses.
They’ll sometimes eat aspen, spruce, or juniper twigs and needles.
5. Alpine Ibex
The Alpine ibex (Capra ibex), scientifically known as Capra ibex, is often referred to as bouquetin or steinbock.
Unlike the previous species, the Alpine ibex is native to the European Alps.
Historically, it lived only in Italy’s Gran Paradiso National Park, and it almost went extinct at a certain point.
Today, however, they’re found throughout the Alps thanks to a major reintroduction process that started in 1906.
In contrast to other ibexes, the bouquetin has a short, broad head. Its body is covered in a brownish-gray coat, exhibiting darker markings on the throat and chin.
Additionally, it has a stripe running along its back.
These wild goats are sexually dimorphic, as males have much longer horns than females.
Moreover, the horn growth varies depending on geographic distribution, which also alters their diet, weather, and population density.
These creatures are excellent climbers! Naturally, they inhabit rocky regions.
During the spring and summer, they prefer slopes of 30 to 45°, where they seek caves to serve as shelter.
When the temperature drops, though, they may move to coniferous forests, especially males, as females rely primarily on steep terrain.
Alpine ibexes are social creatures, living in herds of up to 20 females and one dominant male.
Males living in a herd (6-8 individuals) have a different hierarchy system.
They’re primarily active at dawn or dusk when they forage for grasses, bushes, flowers, and other plant matter.
4. Iberian Ibex
Otherwise known as the Spanish ibex or the Iberian wild goat, the Iberian ibex (Capra pyrenaica) is found only on the Iberian Peninsula of southwestern Europe.
The species previously consisted of four subspecies grouped according to distribution, but two went extinct.
Specialists confirm that the species disappeared from France, Gibraltar, and Andorra but is currently a resident of Spain.
Moreover, thanks to reintroduction efforts, it is also present in Portugal.
Although the species is listed as least concern, only 50,000 mature individuals are left, while its historical population registered more than 100,000 specimens.
However, specialists confirm that their population is constantly increasing.
They are now found in forests, rocky areas, and shrublands.
What distinguishes these ibexes from others in the Capra genus are their short legs and large, flexible hooves adapted to run on bare, rocky, steep slopes.
Moreover, they also have a very characteristic horn growth, featuring prominent curves.
As with other species, male Iberian ibexes are larger than females.
Did you know that the Iberian ibex has a unique kidney function that aids in storing fat, which can be subsequently used as energy during winter?
Moreover, when temperatures drop and food is scarce, they limit their movements to survive.
When the weather improves, Iberian ibex start foraging at their fullest, looking for plant matter.
3. Nubian Ibex
Unlike other species on our list, the Nubian ibex is native to mountainous desert areas.
The species is native to the Middle East and Africa.
It can be found on rough, dry terrain, where they’re preyed upon by eagles, golden jackals, and leopards, to name a few.
Wild predation and other threats urged the IUCN Red List to assess the species as vulnerable since only around 4,500 mature individuals are left.
The Nubian ibex (Capra nubiana) is the smallest Capra species, measuring around 25.2-31.2 inches tall and weighing 55.8-164.7 pounds.
Moreover, they have a much lighter coat, typically a light tan, with distinctive patterns on the legs and backs.
A male’s coat is subject to changes during the autumn breeding season as it grows something called rutting fur, which is dark brown.
Their horns are thin and long and measure up to 39 inches in males and 12 inches in females.
Nubian ibexes live in herds of up to 50 specimens, although male herds are typically much smaller, as they’re more solitary.
On the other hand, they are polygynous, which means that males mate with multiple females and fight other males for them.
This ibex species is active during the day when they spend much time on cliffs, where they feel the safest.
Needless to say, they’re robust creatures that have excellent climbing, running, and jumping skills!
2. Walia Ibex
While it’s sometimes considered a subspecies of the Alpine ibex, the walia ibex (Capra walie) is a separate species in the Capra genus.
It is found only in Ethiopia, more precisely in the Semien Mountains at altitudes of around 8,200 – 14,800 feet.
The walia ibex prefers environments with low vegetation cover.
These ibexes have a distinctive chocolate-brown coat with lighted patches on the legs and belly.
Another characteristic of the species is that males have black beards.
The very large horns of male specimens, measuring up to 43 inches, are of the essence in establishing dominance among them.
Females, on the other hand, have shorter and thinner horns that are as rigid as those of males.
Like other species in the Capra genus, walia ibexes live in herds of 5-20 individuals, although they become much more solitary as they age.
Foraging is usually done in the morning and evening. Since they’re grazing animals, walia ibexes feed on lichens, shrubs, herbs, creepers, and other plants alike.
The IUCN Red List lists the species as vulnerable since only 585 mature individuals are left.
This is a consequence of poor wildlife protection and conservation and habitat destruction by local people.
Moreover, walia ibexes often serve as prey for other creatures in their habitat, such as leopards and hyenas.
However, their population trend is currently increasing, which is good news!
1. West Asian Ibex
The West Asian ibex (Capra aegagrus) is native to Turkey, Turkmenistan, Armenia, Pakistan, Georgia, and others.
Its natural habitat includes montane forests, shrublands, grasslands, and rocky areas.
The species actually consists of four subspecies: the Bezoar ibex, the Sindh ibex, the Chiltan ibex, and the Turkmen wild goat.
These are grouped according to their geographic distribution.
For example, the bezoar ibex, by far the most known subspecies, is found in the Zagros Mountains and the Caucasus.
It is known for possessing the world’s longest horns in regard to body weight and having a distinctive dark brown coat in males and reddish-gold in females during summer.
When the temperatures drop, however, both turn grayish.
Like other species in the genus, West Asian ibexes are social creatures that live in herds of up to around 131 individuals.
However, some species are more solitary and prefer to spend their lives in smaller groups.
While foraging, West Asian ibex target herbaceous plants as shrubs, although they may occasionally climb shorter trees.
Capra aegagrus is generally considered near threatened because of poaching, habitat loss, natural predation, and competition with domestic livestock.
Nevertheless, their population is stable, and their natural habitats serve as home to around 70,000 mature individuals, which is an excellent number compared to other species in the genus.