Alpine Ibex / steinbock - France wildlife

Photo of Alpine Ibex

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The Alpine Ibex (Capra Ibex, one of several different Ibex found in the world is commonly known as Steinbock, its German name.

ALPINE IBEX (STEINBOCK)

This Ibex, a wild goat, lives in the Alps, at high altitude (2,000 metres - 4,500 metres) above the trees and close to the snowline, where it is a very efficient climber.

Male Alpine ibex grow to 1 metre tall and weigh up to 100kg, although females are only half the size of the males. The ibex is distinguished by the large, backward-curving horns carried by both males and females, and a distinctive beard on the males. During the summer the ibex has grey-brown, becoming more chestnut brown in the winter.

Surviving on the available food - grass, moss, leaves and twigs - the ibex is herbivorous. Frequently the ibex descends into the Alpine meadows during the evening to eat where food is more readily available, before returning to the rock slopes above.

Since they inhabit such inhospitable terrain there are few natural predators for the ibex. The biggest threat is for the young, that can be prey to eagles.

By the beginning of the 19th century the Ibex was practically extinct, being hunted for its supposed mystical qualities. After 150 years of extensive protection the numbers in the wild are not now under threat of extinction.

 
 

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