Print Posted By Lost in France on 1 Oct 2009 in Wildlife - Wildlife and nature in France

The Alpine Ibex

Male IbexThe Alpine Ibex - Capra ibex can be found in the Alps region of France it is often known by its German name the Steinbock it is instantly recognisable by its magnificent curved-back horns which in the male can reach over a metre long. The Ibex uses these horns to defend itself against would be predators such as wolves, foxes and the lynx.

The Ibex is at home along the rocky snowlines found high above the Alpine forests in the steepest of terrains, it is extremely agile and sure footed and it is an excellent climber it can be found at elevations of up to 3,200 m.

The male Ibex reaches a height of around 1 metre and can weigh in at as much as 100 kg, the female Ibex is much smaller usually only attaining about half the size of the male. Their coats are a light to ochre brown colour growing slightly longer and more woolly in the colder winter months.

The Ibex feeds completely on vegetation enjoying a diet of shoots, grasses, leaves and moss. During the early mornings and in the evenings it descends to the lower alpine meadows where most of its food is found. It prefers to spend the rest of the day higher in the mountains safely away from predators. Ibex Rutting

The Ibex lives in small groups or herds of up to 20 or so females, the males either live alone or in small bachelor groups only joining the females in the late autumn during the breeding season known as the rut. At this time fights take place among the male Ibex as they decide who is entitled to breed with the females, most of this fighting is ritualistic and playful and they are seldom injured.

Gestation takes around 6 months/170 days and usually only a single baby Ibex or kid is born in early summer. The female Ibex feeds her young through until the autumn although they are able to graze for themselves at just one month old. The kids stay with their mothers until they are sexually mature, this is approximately 1 - 1 1/2  years for females and 2 years for males. The lifespan of the Ibex is up to 20 years.

In the early part of the 20th century the Alpine Ibex was nearly hunted to extinction with only a small group surviving in Italy's Gran Paradiso National Park but nowadays they are protected by law and have been reintroduced across the Alps.

French Name for the Ibex: Le bouquetin or bouquetin des Alpes
 

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