Alpine Ibex (Capra ibex) - Wiki
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
[Photo] An Alpine Ibex. Photographed by w:User:Ferkelparade http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Ferkelparade
The Alpine Ibex (Capra ibex)???commonly called by its German or Dutch name, steinbock or by its Latin name Capricorn???is the species of ibex that lives in the European Alps. The Spanish Ibex (Capra pyrenaica) and the Middle Eastern Nubian Ibex (Capra ibex nubiana) are very close relatives of the Alpine Ibex ??? the Spanish form is generally considered specifically distinct, but the Nubian is usually considered a subspecies of Alpine Ibex.
Being an excellent climber, its habitat is the rocky region along the snowline above alpine forests of the European Alps. They tend to occupy steep, rough terrain at elevations of 6,500???15,000 feet.
Male specimens commonly grow to a height of about 1 metre (3 feet) and reach a weight of about 100 kg (220 lb). Females are usually only half the size of males. Apart from size, males can also be distinguished by their prominent beard. Both male and female ibexes have large, backwards-curving horns although those of the male are substantially larger and can grow to an impressive length of up to 1 m. These horns are used to defend themselves from predators such as wolves, lynxes, bears, jackals and foxes. Small kids may also be susceptible to attacks from large predatory birds such as eagles. The Ibex has a brownish grey colouring in the summer which changes during the winter months to a richer, darker brown.
Ibexes are strictly herbivorous and survive on a diet of grass, moss, flowers, leaves and twigs. If leaves and shoots are out of reach, Ibexes often stand on their rear legs to reach this food. They eat during late afternoon and evening hours, descending at this time from the high steep cliffs and into the lower alpine meadows below. The rest of the day is spent in the higher altitude of the cliffs and hills. This pattern of remaining at higher altitudes during the bright daylight hours helps protect them from predators who do not inhabit such high terrain. In the winter, Ibexes also tend to live at lower altitudes since food is more scarce. The need to drink every few days in the summer causes the Ibexes to seek permanent residence within proximity to a dependable water source during this season.
Male ibexes often group together in bachelor herds during summer; in late autumn, during rut, males typically go their own ways and seek out a female herd of their own. During breeding season, fight rituals occur between males in order to determine who is entitled to breed with the available females. Despite the large, heavy horns of the males playing a part in this ritual, it is rare that they are physically harmed in the process. After conception, and gestation period of 6 months, a single kid (twins rarely occur) is born around May.
The steinbock has for a long time 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. As a result of very extensive hunting, the steinbock was almost extinct as early as the beginning 19th century. Thanks to the efforts of a small group of foresters, the last remaining animals in Gran Paradiso were protected in 1816. In 1854, Victor Emmanuel II of Italy placed the animals under his personal custody. Today, after extensive and ongoing reintroduction programs, the population in the wild is estimated at about 30,000.
|The text in this page is based on the copyrighted Wikipedia article shown in above URL. It is used under the GNU Free Documentation License. You may redistribute it, verbatim or modified, providing that you comply with the terms of the GFDL.|