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Fast Facts:

  • The ibex, also called Steinbock, is a type of wild mountain goat. They have large horns which curve backward.

  • There are many different kinds of ibex, including the Alpine, Nubian, Spanish, Siberian, and the recently extinct Pyrenean.

  • The Steinbock, or Alpine ibex, has long been regarded as a mystical animal. Almost all of its body parts and its excrement were sought after as cures for various illnesses and as ingredients for magical potions.


Scientific Name Capra
Classification Phylum Chordata, Class Mammalia, Order Artiodactyla, Family Bovidae
Status They now face habitat loss to agriculture and resource competition with domestic goats.

Due to intensive hunting, the Alpine ibex was almost extinct in the early 1800s.

Thanks to the efforts of a small group of foresters, the last remaining animals were protected in 1816. Today, the population in the wild is estimated at 30,000.
Range Ibex are found in mountainous areas of North Africa, Central Asia, and Europe
Habitat Ibex prefer living in the mountains, on rocky cliffs and in high meadows.
Diet Grasses, leaves, lichens, and the shoots of trees and bushes.
Size Males length 5' long
Height 3 1/2' at the shoulder. Weight: About 270 pounds.
Females are smaller and have shorter horns.
Lifespan 16 yrs.


The Pyrenean ibex was declared protected in 1973, but all remaining animals died. The Alpine and Spanish ibex are not threatened at this time, although they are hunted for their magnificent horns. The Nubian ibex is classified as endangered by the IUCN (1996), with an estimated population of 1200 animals in 1986.

Researchers in Spain are studying the effects of human activities and the habitat requirements of the Spanish ibex.

Threats include the wolf, snow leopard, lynx, wolverine, brown bear, fox, and golden eagle, and extensive hunting by humans.

Special Features

  • The coat of the ibex is short but not shaggy. Males have a beard at the chin.
  • T he horns of the male can be over a meter long.
  • The last Pryenean ibex died January 6, 2000, when a tree fell on her. Two Spanish scientists had taken a tissue sample from her ear in 1999. In October of 2000, the Spanish government announced plans to clone the animal. This would be the first time an extinct animal was cloned. However, even if the cloning were successful, there would be no mate to perpetuate the species.
  • The Nubian ibex is relatively small compared to other ibexes. It lives in rocky, desert mountains with steep slopes in northeastern Africa and parts of Arabia. In contrast to most desert animals, the Nubian ibex drinks almost daily. The light, smooth, shiny coat is thought to reflect a large amount of incoming solar radiation, which allows the animals to remain active throughout the day, even during hot summer afternoons. During summer nights, the Nubian ibex rests in high, open areas of slopes. During the cooler winter nights, herds rest in more sheltered places, like caves or under overhangs.
  • The coat length varies seasonally, it is short and fuzzy during the summer and thicker with long guard hairs during the winter. Young animals and adult females are generally light ochre brown to pale brown, while the color of adult males changes seasonally. In summer, the coat is a yellowish brown with darker legs. The heavy body is supported by short, study legs.

Social Structure & Behavior

Breeding and Care of Young:
Females and young form herds of ten to twenty. Males form separate bachelor herds. At mating time in December and January, males compete in bitter battles for breeding rights. They rear on their hindlegs and clash horns. After a gestation period of 5 to 6 months, a single kid is born.

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