Capra ibex [Linnaeus, 1758].

Citation: Syst. Nat., 10th ed., 1:68.

Type locality: Switzerland, Valais.

General Characteristics

Body Length: 75-170 cm / 2.5-5.6 ft.
Shoulder Height: 70-94 cm / 2.3-3.1 ft.
Tail Length: 15-30 cm / 6-12 in.
Weight: 40-120 kg / 88-264 lb.

The coat length varies seasonally, being short and fuzzy during the summer and growing thicker wool and long guard hairs during the winter.  Young animals and adult females are generally light ochre brown to pale brown, while the colour of adult males changes seasonally.  In summer, the coat is a yellowish brown with darker legs.  There are lighter parts on the neck and flanks, and the underparts are white.  In late summer, there is a gradual change in seven to twelve year old males to a dark chestnut brown.  As spring approaches, this colouration fades.  Bucks have a short beard, 6-7 cm / 2.4-2.8 inches long.  The heavy body is supported by short, study legs.  The sabre-shaped horns curve upward and bend towards the rear.  While they are found in both sexes, but are much larger in males than females.  Horns on bucks grow up to 100 cm / 40 inches long, and have small bumps on the outer curve.  The much thinner, shorter horns of females are smooth, and grow up to 35 cm / 14 inches long.

Habitat and behaviour

Alpine ibex typically inhabit open, rocky habitats at high altitude, above the tree line at an altitude of 1,600-3,200 m. Steep, south-facing slops with rugged topography and grassy vegetation are preferred. Below the tree line, at sub-alpine levels, ibex are only found in open, sunny woodland interspersed with rocky outcrops. Living in mountain pastures Ibex feed on alpine grasses, herbaceous plants and shrubs. This species is diurnal, but most active during the early morning and late afternoon. They migrate seasonally to different altitudes, spending the harsher winter months at medium elevations.

Ibex are known to be extremely good climbers and do not fear steep slopes. The next series of photo’s show a group of ibex that are climbing up against Cingino Dam In the Italian Alps to eat the lichens from the stones and lick the saline that is dissolving from the concrete.