Alpine Ibex (Capra ibex)


Class: Mammalia
Order: Artiodactyla
Family:    Bovidae
Size:    Height:  24 to 36 inches (61 to 91 cm) to shoulder
Weight: 90 to 265 pounds (41 to 120 kg)
Diet: Grasses, tree leaves and plants
Distribution: Europe
Young:  1 to 2 kids, once per year
Animal Predators:  Wolves, jackals, foxes, lynxes and bears
IUCN Status: No special status
Terms: Young: Kid
Lifespan: 10 to 14 years



·       The scientific name is Latin, meaning “she-goat” (Capra) and a kind of goat, a “chamois” (Ibex).

·       The Pyrenean ibex of Spain became extinct on January 6, 2000 when the last one died in captivity.

·       The Walia ibex of Ethiopia and the Nubian Ibex of the Middle East are endangered.

·       The largest ibex is C. Sibirica, native of the Tien Shan, Altai and Himalayan mountains of Central Asia.



Alpine ibexes have a coat that is shorter during the summer and thicker and longer during the winter, to keep them warm. Males are light brown with dark legs in summer, and are dark brown in winter. Females are light brown all year round. Males have strong, thick, ridged horns that can grow up to 55 inches (140 cm) in length, curving backwards.  Females also have horns, but they tend to be thinner and shorter, reaching a maximum length of 14 inches (36 cm).  



They live high up in rocky, mountainous areas and are extremely sure-footed, leaping from rock to rock. During summer, they retreat higher into the mountains, following the remaining snow. Alpine ibexes once ranged throughout the alpine areas of central Europe at an altitude of 5,100 to 10,200 feet (1,600 to 3,200 m), but now they can only be found on reserves in Switzerland and in the Italian Alps, where they are protected.


Feeding Habits

Their diet is made up of grasses, tree leaves and plants.



Mating season is in the fall or early winter. The males engage in fight displays but do not harm each other. Each male assembles a harem of approximately 12 females. Mating occurs over a period of ten days, after which the herds split up into separate male-only and female-only herds. Females give birth five to six months later, to one or two kids. The kids are nursed for six months and are gradually weaned. They begin to graze alongside their mother at one month. When they reach maturity at the age of two years, males leave the herd to go and join a bachelor herd, although they will likely not mate before the age of six, because until then, their horns are not strong enough to take on other males.



These agile goats live in rocky areas, in small herds. During the mating season, the females and males join up into one herd, but the rest of the time they remain separated into herds of males and herds of females and juveniles. Sometimes older males tend to be solitary. Alpine ibexes are active during the day, feeding during the morning hours after sunrise, taking a midday rest, and then feeding again in the late afternoon.



Alpine ibexes were once hunted to extinction in the Eastern Alps in the mid-1700s. They were reintroduced on reserves in Switzerland in the 1960s. They are not a conservation concern at this time. 



All the World’s Mammals: Hoofed Mammals, Torstar Books, 1984

Alpine Ibex Wildlife Fact File, IM Pub, US