Wednesday, April 23, 2008
The Alpine Ibex (Capra ibex)—commonly called by its German or Dutch name, steinbock or by its Latin name Capricorn—is the species of ibex that lives in the European Alps. The Spanish Ibex (Capra pyrenaica) and the Middle Eastern Nubian Ibex (Capra ibex nubiana) are very close relatives of the Alpine Ibex — the Spanish form is generally considered specifically distinct, but the Nubian is usually considered a subspecies of Alpine Ibex.
Male specimens commonly grow to a height of about 1 metre (3 feet) and reach a weight of about 100 kg (220 lb). Females are usually only half the size of males. Apart from size, males can also be distinguished by their prominent beard. Older males will tend to grow beards under their chin. Both male and female ibexes have large, backwards-curving horns although those of the male are substantially larger and can grow to an impressive length of up to 1 m. These horns are used to defend themselves from predators such as wolves, lynxes, bears, jackals and foxes. Small kids may also be susceptible to attacks from large predatory birds such as eagles. The Ibex has a brownish grey colouring in the summer which changes during the winter months to a richer, darker brown. It is related to the Nubian and Siberian ibexes.
The steinbock has for a long time been regarded as a mystical animal; almost all of its body parts and its excrement were sought after as cures for various illnesses and as ingredients for magical potions. As a result of very extensive hunting, the steinbock was almost extinct as early as the beginning 19th century. Thanks to the efforts of a small group of foresters, the last remaining animals in Gran Paradiso were protected in 1816. In 1854, Victor Emmanuel II of Italy placed the animals under his personal custody. Today, after extensive and ongoing reintroduction programs, the population in the wild is estimated at about 30,000.
Posted by bushganizer258 at 9:51 AM