Spanish ibex

Iberian ibex
Male C.p. victoriae.
Female C.p. victoriae.
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Clade: Synapsida
Class: Mammalia
Order: Artiodactyla
Family: Bovidae
Subfamily: Caprinae
Tribe: Caprini
Genus: Capra
Species: C. pyrenaica
Binomial name
Capra pyrenaica
Schinz, 1838

Capra pyrenaica hispanica LC[2]
Capra pyrenaica lusitanica † EX[2]
Capra pyrenaica pyrenaica † EX[2]
Capra pyrenaica victoriae VU[2]

Distribution of the Iberian ibex

The Iberian ibex, Spanish ibex, Spanish wild goat, or Iberian wild goat (Capra pyrenaica)[3] is a species of ibex with four subspecies. Of these, two can still be found on the Iberian Peninsula, but the remaining two are now extinct. The Portuguese subspecies became extinct in 1892 and the Pyrenean subspecies became extinct in 2000. An ongoing project to clone to the Pyrenean subspecies resulted in one clone being born alive in January 2009. This is the first taxon to become "un-extinct", although the clone died a few minutes after birth due to physical defects in lungs.[4]


The Iberian ibex Capra pyrenaica 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.[5] These two subspecies of ibexes, C. p. hispanica and C. p. victoriae, can be found along the Spanish Iberian Peninsula and have even migrated and settled into the coast of Portugal.[5]


C. pyrenaica are strong mountainous animals characterized by their large and flexible hooves and short legs. These physical adaptations allow them to be able to run and leap on bare, rocky, rough, and steep slopes.[5] This gives them an advantage over potential predators that possibly cannot reach them because of the terrain. The Iberian ibex also shows remarkable sexual dimorphism, with males being greater in size and weight and also having larger horns than the females.[5] The horns of the ibexes are different among wild caprids as they 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] Even though the female ibexes are smaller, they have a faster ossification process and typically finish full bone development nearly two years before males.[5]


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.[6] Mixed groups are also common during the rest of the winter.[7] 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.[8]

Predatory response

The Spanish 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.[8] Interestingly, 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.[8] 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 farther distances.[8]


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 limited the food resources.[9] 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.[10] 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.


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 Spanish 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] This disease, potentially fatal for infected individuals, unequally affects males and females[11] and it limits the reproductive investment of individuals.[12] Scabies has become the main destabilizing factor in many populations of Iberian ibex.



  1. Herrero, J.; Pérez, J.M. (2008). "Capra pyrenaica". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN. 2008: e.T3798A10085397. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2008.RLTS.T3798A10085397.en. Retrieved 24 November 2016.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Perez, Jesus M.; Granados, Jose E.; Soriguer, Ramon C.; Fandos, Paulino; Marquez, Francisco J.; Crampe, Jean P. (2002). "Distribution, status and conservation problems of the Spanish Ibex, Capra pyrenaica (Mammalia: Artiodactyla)". Mammal Review. 32 (1): 26–39. doi:10.1046/j.1365-2907.2002.00097.x.
  3. Sarasa, Mathieu; Alasaad, Samer; Pérez, Jesús M. (2012). "Common names of species, the curious case of Capra pyrenaica and the concomitant steps towards the 'wild-to-domestic' transformation of a flagship species and its vernacular names". Biodiversity and Conservation. 21 (1): 1–12. doi:10.1007/s10531-011-0172-3.
  4. Folch, J., Cocero, M. J., Chesne, P., Alabart, J. L., Dominguez, V., Cognie, Y., Roche, A., Fernandez-Arias, A., Marti, J. I., Sanchez, P., Echegoyen, E., Beckers, J. F., Bonastre, A. S. & Vignon, X. (2009). "First birth of an animal from an extinct subspecies (Capra pyrenaica pyrenaica) by cloning". Theriogenology. 71 (6): 1026–1034. doi:10.1016/j.theriogenology.2008.11.005. PMID 19167744.
  5. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Acevedo, P. (2009). "Biology, ecology, and status of Iberian ibex Capra pyrenaica: a critical review and research prospectus". Mammal Review. 39 (1): 17–32. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2907.2008.00138.x.
  6. Sarasa, M., Serrano, E., Pérez, J. M., Soriguer, R. C., Gonzalez, G., Joachim, J., Fandos, P. & Granados, J. E. (2010). "Effects of season, age, and body condition on allocation to testes mass in Iberian ibex". Journal of Zoology. 281 (2): 125–131. doi:10.1111/j.1469-7998.2009.00689.x.
  7. Fandos, P. (1991) La cabra montés (Capra pyrenaica) en el Parque Natural de las Sierras de Cazorla Segura y las Villas, Ministerio de Agricultura Pesca y Alimentación. ICONA-CSIC, Madrid.
  8. 1 2 3 4 Alados, C.L. & Escos J. (1988). "Alarm calls and flight behaviour in Spanish ibex (Capra pyrencaica)" (PDF). Biology of Behavior. 13: 11–21.
  9. Serrano, Emmanuel; Granados, Jose Enrique; Sarasa, Mathieu; González, Francisco Jose; Fandos, Paulino; Soriguer, Ramon C.; Pérez, Jesus M. (2011). "The Effects of Winter Severity and Population Density on Body Stores in the Iberian Wild Goat (Capra pyrenaica) in a Highly Seasonal Mountain Environment". European Journal of Wildlife Research. 57 (1): 51. doi:10.1007/s10344-010-0398-5.
  10. Escos J. & Alados, C.L. (1987). "Relationships between movement rate, agnostic displacements and forage availability in Spanish ibexes (Capra pyrenaica)" (PDF). Behavior of Biology. 12: 245–255.
  11. Sarasa, M., Rambozzi, L., Rossi, L., Meneguz, P. G., Serrano, E., Granados, J. E., González, F. J., Fandos, P., Soriguer, R. C., Gonzalez, G., Joachim, J. & Pérez, J. M. (2010). "Sarcoptes scabiei: Specific immune response to sarcoptic mange in the Iberian ibex Capra pyrenaica depends on previous exposure and sex". Experimental Parasitology. 124 (3): 265–271. doi:10.1016/j.exppara.2009.10.008. PMID 19857492.
  12. Sarasa, M., Serrano, E., Soriguer, R. C., Granados, J.-E., Fandos, P., Gonzalez, G., Joachim, J. & Pérez, J. M. (2011). "Negative effect of the arthropod parasite, Sarcoptes scabiei, on testes mass in Iberian ibex, Capra pyrenaica". Veterinary Parasitology. 175 (3–4): 306–312. doi:10.1016/j.vetpar.2010.10.024. PMID 21074328.
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