Iberian ibex

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Iberian ibex
Cabra montes 2.jpg
Male C.p. hispanica
Female C.p. hispanica
Scientific classification OOjs UI icon edit-ltr.svg
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Artiodactyla
Family: Bovidae
Subfamily: Caprinae
Tribe: Caprini
Genus: Capra
C. pyrenaica
Binomial name
Capra pyrenaica
(Schinz, 1838)

Capra pyrenaica hispanica [2]
Capra pyrenaica victoriae [2]
Capra pyrenaica lusitanica [2]
Capra pyrenaica pyrenaica [2]


Spanish Ibex.jpg
Distribution of the Iberian ibex

The Iberian ibex (Capra pyrenaica), also known as the Spanish ibex, Spanish wild goat and Iberian wild goat, is a species of ibex endemic to the Iberian Peninsula. [3] Four subspecies have been described; two are now extinct. The Portuguese ibex became extinct in 1892, and the Pyrenean ibex became extinct in 2000. A project to clone the Pyrenean ibex resulted in one clone being born alive in July 2003, making it the first taxon to become "un-extinct", although the clone died several minutes after birth due to physical defects in its lungs. [4]



Western Spanish ibex juvenile in Sierra de Gredos, Spain Capra pyrenaica victoriae, juvenile -- 2013 -- Laguna Grande, Sierra de Gredos, Espana.jpg
Western Spanish ibex juvenile in Sierra de Gredos, Spain

The Iberian ibex is characterized by its large and flexible hooves and short legs. These physical adaptations allow it to run and leap on bare, rocky, rough and steep slopes out of reach of potential predators. The horns of the Iberian ibex curve out and up and then back, inward, and, depending on subspecies, either up again or down. The annual horn growth is influenced principally by age but can also be contributed by environmental factors and the growth made in the previous year. [5] The Iberian ibex also shows sexual dimorphism, with the male being larger in size and weight and also having larger horns than the female. The bones of the female ibex ossify nearly two years before the bones of the male. [5]

Distribution and habitat

The Iberian ibex populates the Iberian Peninsula and consisted originally of four subspecies. However, with recent extinctions occurring within the last century, only two of the subspecies still exist. Both occur in Spain and in northern Portugal, [5] as well a small reintroduced population in the French Pyrenees. [6] It has been extirpated from Gibraltar and possibly Andorra. [1]

Behaviour and ecology


The Iberian ibex is generally a mixed feeder between a browser and a grazer, depending on the plant availability in their home range. Thus, the percentage of each type of resource that is consumed will vary altitudinally, geographically, and seasonally. [5] The ibex also has a special mechanism in the kidney that stores fat in order to be used as energy during the cold winter times. The highest body storage of kidney fat can be found during the productive warm seasons and the lowest during the cold period. The body storage is characterized by the limited food resources. [7] Foraging in ibexes is also different depending on the season. When food resources are low during the winter, ibexes would reduce their rates of movement when foraging. However, during the spring season, when food is more available, they would increase their rate of movement and become more mobile in finding food. [8] This would be the ideal trend of movement since the spring season is more abundant in food resources meaning that there is more competition for food resources forcing some to trek farther in order to obtain food.

Reproduction and life cycle

Iberian ibex establish two types of social groups: male-only groups and females with young juvenile groups. [5] It is during rutting season (November/December) that the males interact with the females in order to reproduce. Allocation to testes mass was greatest in the rutting season, particularly at ages that are associated with a subordinate status and a coursing, rather than mate-guarding, reproductive strategy. [9] Mixed groups are also common during the rest of the winter. [10] During the birth season, the yearling are separated from the female groups at the time of the new births. The males are the first to separate and return to their male-only groups while the female yearlings eventually return to their mothers and spend their next few years with the group. [11]

Predatory response

Typical Spanish taxidermy of the different subspecies of the Iberian ibex, 1950 Exposicion trofeos de caza (2).jpg
Typical Spanish taxidermy of the different subspecies of the Iberian ibex, 1950

The Iberian ibex has a unique way of signaling others when a potential predator has been spotted. First the ibex will have an erect posture with its ears and head pointing in the direction of the potential predator. The caller will then signal the other ibexes in the group with one or more alarm calls. Once the group has heard the alarm calls, they will flee to another area that is usually an advantageous vantage point like a rocky slope where the predator cannot reach. [11] The ibex usually flees in a very coordinated fashion that is led by an experienced adult female in female-juvenile groups and an experienced male in male-only groups. [11] This possibly allows the group to escape in a more efficient way as the more experienced ibex will know which slope to run to. However, since their alarm calls consists of an abrupt explosive whistle, it can easily be heard by predators and quickly be located even from a distance. [11]


The Count of Teba posing with a killed Iberian ibex of Gredos, photographed by the 11th Marquess of Valdueza, 1950's CarlosMitjansIbex.jpg
The Count of Teba posing with a killed Iberian ibex of Gredos, photographed by the 11th Marquess of Valdueza, 1950's

The populations of Capra pyrenaica have decreased significantly over the last centuries. This is probably due to a combination of contributing factors such as hunting pressure, agricultural development and habitat deterioration. Around 1890, one of its subspecies, C. pyrenaica lusitanica, also known as the Portuguese ibex, became extinct from its range in the Portuguese Serra do Gerês and Galicia. By the mid-nineteenth century, another of the four subspecies, the Pyrenean ibex, had lost most of its range. It finally became extinct in January 2000, when the last adult female died in the Ordesa National Park. [2] There are also a number of threats to the future preservation of the Iberian ibex such as population overabundance, disease, and potential competition with domestic livestock and other ungulates, along with the negative effects of human disturbance through tourism and hunting. [5]

Recently ibexes from southern Spain have become exposed to disease outbreaks such as sarcoptic mange, [2] the animal version of human scabies. This disease, potentially fatal for infected individuals, unequally affects males and females [12] and it limits the reproductive investment of individuals. [13] The disease has become the main destabilizing factor in many populations of Iberian ibex.

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ibex</span> Type of mammal

An ibex is any of several species of wild goat , distinguished by the male's large recurved horns, which are transversely ridged in front. Ibex are found in Eurasia, North Africa and East Africa. The name ibex comes from Latin, borrowed from Iberian or Aquitanian, akin to Old Spanish bezerro, 'bull', modern Spanish becerro, 'yearling'. Ranging in height from 70 to 110 centimetres (27–43 in) and weighing 90 to 120 kilograms (200–270 lb) for males, ibex can live up to 20 years. Three closely related varieties of goats found in the wild are not usually called ibex: the markhor, western tur, and eastern tur.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Iberian lynx</span> Small wild cat

The Iberian lynx is one of the four extant species within the medium-sized wild cat genus Lynx. It is endemic to the Iberian Peninsula in southwestern Europe. It is listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List. In the 20th century, the Iberian lynx population had declined because of overhunting, poaching, fragmentation of suitable habitats, and the population decline of its main prey species, the European rabbit, caused by myxomatosis and rabbit haemorrhagic disease.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Alpine ibex</span> Species of mammal

The Alpine ibex, which is also known as the steinbock, is a species of goat that lives in the Alps of Europe. It is one of ten species in the genus Capra and its closest living relative is the Iberian ibex. The Alpine ibex is a sexually dimorphic species; males are larger and carry longer horns than females. Its coat is brownish-grey. Alpine ibexes tend to live in steep, rough terrain and open alpine meadows. They can be found at elevations as high as 3,300 m (10,800 ft) and their sharp hooves allow them to scale their mountainous habitat.

<i>Capra</i> (genus) Genus of mammals, the goats

Capra is a genus of mammals, the goats, comprising ten species, including the markhor and several species known as ibexes. The domestic goat is a domesticated species derived from the bezoar ibex. Evidence of goat domestication dates back more than 8,500 years.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Pyrenean chamois</span> Species of mammal

The Pyrenean chamois is a goat-antelope that lives in the Pyrenees and Cantabrian Mountains of Spain, France and Andorra, and the Apennine Mountains of central Italy. It is one of the two species of the genus Rupicapra, the other being the chamois, Rupicapra rupicapra.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Wild goat</span> Species of mammal

The wild goat is a wild goat species, inhabiting forests, shrublands and rocky areas ranging from Turkey and the Caucasus in the west to Turkmenistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan in the east. It has been listed as near threatened on the IUCN Red List and is threatened by destruction and degradation of habitat.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Barbary sheep</span> Species of mammal

The Barbary sheep, also known as aoudad, is a species of caprine native to rocky mountains in North Africa. While this is the only species in genus Ammotragus, six subspecies have been described. Although it is rare in its native North Africa, it has been introduced to North America, southern Europe, and elsewhere. It is also known in the Berber language as waddan or arwi, and in former French territories as the mouflon.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Nubian ibex</span> Species of mammal

The Nubian ibex is a desert-dwelling goat species found in mountainous areas of northern and northeast Africa, and the Middle East. It was historically considered to be a subspecies of the Alpine ibex, but is now considered a distinct species. The wild population is estimated at 4,500 mature individuals, and it is classified as vulnerable.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Portuguese ibex</span> Extinct subspecies of Iberian ibex

The Portuguese ibex is an extinct subspecies of Iberian ibex that inhabited the north mountainous zones of Portugal, Galicia, Asturias and western Cantabria. In size and colouration it was much like the Spanish animals, though inclining towards brown rather than black markings. Its horns were strikingly different from any of the other Iberian subspecies. They were only half the length of the Pyrenean ibex, but were almost twice as wide, and, consequently, much closer together at their base.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Walia ibex</span> Species of mammal

The walia ibex is a vulnerable species of ibex. It is sometimes considered an endemic subspecies of the Alpine ibex. If the population were to increase, the surrounding mountain habitat would be sufficient to sustain only 2,000 ibex. The adult walia ibex's only known wild predator is the hyena. However, young ibex are often hunted by a variety of fox and cat species. The ibex are members of the goat family, and the walia ibex is the southernmost of today's ibexes. In the late 1990s, the walia ibex went from endangered to critically endangered due to the declining population. The walia ibex is also known as the Abyssinian ibex. Given the small distribution range of the Walia ibex in its restricted mountain ecosystem, the presence of a large number of domestic goats may pose a serious threat that can directly affect the survival of the population.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Siberian ibex</span> Species of mammal

The Siberian ibex, also known using regionalized names including Altai ibex,Asian ibex, Central Asian ibex, Gobi ibex, Himalayan ibex, Mongolian ibex or Tian Shan ibex, is a polytypic species of ibex, a wild relative of goats and sheep. It lives in Central Asia, and is, by far, the most widely-distributed species in the genus Capra. In terms of population stability, Siberian ibex are currently ranked as Near Threatened, mostly due to over-hunting, low densities and overall decline; still, reliable data is minimal and difficult to come by, in addition to the animals’ expansive natural range, so accurate observations are still scant. The Siberian ibex has, formerly, been treated as a subspecies of the Eurasian Alpine ibex, and whether or not it is a single species or a complex of distinct units that stand out as genetically-distinct is still not entirely clear. The Siberian ibex is the longest and heaviest member of the genus Capra, though its shoulder height is slightly surpassed by the markhor.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Endling</span> Last known individual of a species or subspecies

An endling is the last known individual of a species or subspecies. Once the endling dies, the species becomes extinct. The word was coined in correspondence in the scientific journal Nature.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Southeastern Spanish ibex</span>

The southeastern Spanish ibex, or the Spanish ibex, is an ibex that is endemic to Spain and is the only wild caprine native to Spain. It is a subspecies of the Iberian ibex.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Western Spanish ibex</span>

The Western Iberian ibex or Gredos ibex is a subspecies of Iberian ibex native to Spain, in the Sierra de Gredos. It was later introduced to other sites in Spain and to northern Portugal as a replacement for the extinct Portuguese ibex.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Cantabrian chamois</span> Subspecies of mammal

The Cantabrian chamois is a slim mountain goat-antelope, and is one of the 10 subspecies of the genus Rupicapra. It ranges the Cantabrian Mountains in northern Spain, with a population of 17,000 animals in 2007-2008.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Pyrenean ibex</span> Extinct subspecies of Iberian ibex

The Pyrenean ibex, Aragonese and Spanish common name bucardo, Basque common name bukardo, Catalan common name herc and French common name bouquetin, was one of the four subspecies of the Iberian ibex or Iberian wild goat, a species endemic to the Pyrenees. Pyrenean ibex were most common in the Cantabrian Mountains, Southern France, and the northern Pyrenees. This species was common during the Holocene and Upper Pleistocene, during which their morphology, primarily some skulls, of the Pyrenean ibex was found to be larger than other Capra subspecies in southwestern Europe from the same time.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Iberian conifer forests</span>

The Iberian conifer forests is a Mediterranean forests, woodlands, and scrub ecoregion in southwestern Europe. It includes the mountain forests of southern and central Spain.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Pyrenees conifer and mixed forests</span>

The Pyrenees conifer and mixed forests is a temperate broadleaf and mixed forests ecoregion in southwestern Europe. It extends along the Pyrenees mountains which run east and west along the border between France and Spain, and includes all Andorra. The ecoregion extends from the lower slopes of the Pyrenees to its highest peaks, which include Aneto, Posets, and Vignemale.


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