What is an Alpine Ibex? 'The Greatest Rock-Climbers of the Alps'
The Alps is one of the most biodiverse regions on the planet, with many animals naturally adapted to its harsh climate. Though the exact numbers of Alpine animals are unknown, it is estimated that there are 30,000 according to the WWF. However, that number has been decreasing due to the threat of climate change and urbanisation. So, we dedicate this ‘Alpine Animal’ blog series to learn about the many animals that call the Apennines their home, along with the factors that threaten their populations. One of which includes the Alpine Ibex - a mountain goat with incredible rock-climbing skills. Fortunately, there are many natural reserves surround Albergo Miramonti, our hotel in the Italian Alps, and these reserves conserve these majestic Ibexes, as well as other Alpine Animals. So without further ado, here are some interesting facts about the Ibex:
HIGHLY SKILLED ROCK-CLIMBERS
The Alpine Ibex, also known as the Capra Ibex, is a wild goat that lives high up in the European Alpine mountain range. Its body is covered with a dull, greyish-brown coat, along with its majestic, longhorns extending from their head. The horns of females are a little shorter, while male horns are significantly larger in size. One of the most incredible facts about this animal is that they are astonishing rock climbers. The ibex has sharp-edged hooves with concave undersides, providing them with reliable support to easily jump from one cliff to another. You can find them climbing the most difficult of cliffs, such as the Cingino Dam in Piedmont, to lick some salt and moss left by the water.
LIVING AMONG THE ROCKS OF THE ITALIAN ALPS
Interestingly, the Alpine Ibex - at one time - was only restricted to the Maurienne Valley in France and the Gran Paradiso National Park in Italy. However, now they have repopulated across the Alps, spanning through more countries such as Switzerland, Germany, Slovenia, Bulgaria and Austria. Now, the question is, what altitude will you be able to find this creature? About 2,000 to 4,600 metres above sea level. The Alpine Ibex thrives in the upper forests, not surpassing the ‘snow line’. Here you will find an abundance of coniferous trees - they are very sturdy and can withstand the cold, just like the Ibexes themselves!
The Alpine Ibex certainly lives under the threat of extinction. Due to its beautiful horns, people poached these animals in the belief that it has ‘medicinal properties’. Therefore, they hunt these animals so that they can get some profit. Furthermore, their natural habitat - as you know - is very harsh. With sharp rocks, extreme weather, as well as the danger of disease and predators - it has influenced them to move much lower down the snow line. Combining all these factors has led to the declining populations of these magnificent creatures, but of course, there are various efforts in trying to maintain their numbers. Around Lombardy, you can visit San’t Antonio Valley and the Adamello Brenta National Park to catch a glimpse of this animal.
For more articles about the Italian Alps and Northern Italy, read the blog: