Animal Info - Walia Ibex

(Other Name: Ethiopian Ibex)

Capra walie (C. walia, C. ibex w.)

Status: Critically Endangered


Contents

1. Profile (Picture)
2. Tidbits
3. Status and Trends (IUCN Status, Countries Where Currently Found, Population Estimates, History of Distribution, Threats and Reasons for Decline)
4. Data on Biology and Ecology (Weight, Habitat, Age to Maturity, Gestation Period, Birth Season, Birth Rate, Maximum Age, Diet, Behavior, Social OrganizationDensity and Range)
5. References


Profile

Picture: Walia Ibex (18 Kb JPEG) (Les Moussis)

The walia ibex, a member of the goat family, weighs 80 - 125 kg (180 - 280 lb). It dwells on steep cliffs between 2500 - 4500 m (8200 - 14,750') in regions characterized by rocky mountains, gorges, outcrops and loose stony screes. It depends on undisturbed juniper and other mountain forest, subalpine grasslands and scrub, and a year-round supply of water. The walia ibex eats bushes, herbs, lichens, shrubs, grass, and creepers. It is mainly crepuscular. Males tend to form larger groups than females (except during the rut). Females form nursery groups during the birth season, rather than becoming solitary as do many ungulates. It has been suggested that this may be due to the risk of attack from large birds of prey (e.g. eagles and vultures).

As far as is known, the walia ibex has always had a restricted range in Ethiopia. It has been found only in the Simien Mountains in northern Ethiopia in recent times. It formerly was distributed throughout these mountains, but it underwent a significant decline between 1920 and 1970. The greatest concentration now occurs within the Simien Mountains National Park, mainly along 25 km (16 mi) of the northern escarpment.

Reasons for its decline include hunting by local people for meat and hides and for horns for drinking vessels. Its inaccessible habitat provided protection until the advent of modern firearms, which led to a significant reduction in the population. In addition, habitat loss due to increasing use of land for cultivation and development has occurred. With the creation of the Simien Mountains National Park around 1970, poaching appeared to be brought under control. A major conservation problem is that the remaining natural habitat is extremely limited.


Tidbits

*** The walia ibex is the southernmost of all present-day ibexes.

*** The inaccessible nature of the walia's habitat was sufficient protection until the introduction of modern firearms.

*** "...Our guide appeared to regard as absurd the idea that female walia with kids should be spared to breed some more. ‘Someone else would shoot them before they could breed,' was his verdict." (quoted in Simon & Geroudet 1970)


Status and Trends

IUCN Status:

Countries Where the Walia Ibex Is Currently Found:

2004: Occurs in Ethiopia (IUCN 2004).

Population Estimates:

[Note: Figures given are for wild populations only.]

History of Distribution:

As far as is known, the walia ibex has always had a restricted range in Ethiopia. It has been found only in the Simien Mountains in northern Ethiopia in recent times. It formerly was distributed throughout these mountains, but it underwent a significant decline between 1920 and 1970. The greatest concentration now occurs within the Simien Mountains National Park, mainly along 25 km (16 mi) of the northern escarpment.

Threats and Reasons for Decline:

Reasons for its decline include hunting by local people for meat and hides and for horns for drinking vessels. Its inaccessible habitat provided protection until the advent of modern firearms, which led to a significant reduction in the population. In addition, habitat loss due to increasing use of land for cultivation and development has occurred. With the creation of the Simien Mountains National Park around 1970, poaching appeared to be brought under control. A major conservation problem is that the remaining natural habitat is extremely limited.


Data on Biology and Ecology

Weight:

The walia ibex weighs 80 - 125 kg (180 - 280 lb).

Habitat:

The walia ibex dwells on steep cliffs between 2500 - 4500 m (8200 - 14,750') in regions characterized by rocky mountains, gorges, outcrops and loose stony screes. It depends on undisturbed juniper and other mountain forest, subalpine grasslands and scrub, and a year-round supply of water. Its preference for the escarpment, where the precipitous cliffs offer safety and refuge, may partly be a consequence of past hunting pressure.

The walia ibex lives in both the Eastern Afromontane Biodiversity Hotspot (Cons. Intl. 2005) as well as the Ethiopian Highlands Global 200 Ecoregion. (Olson & Dinerstein 1998, Olson & Dinerstein 1999)

Age to Maturity:

1 year.

Gestation Period:

150 - 165 days.

Birth Season:

The walia ibex shows rutting behavior throughout the year, with a peak from March to May.

Birth Rate:

1, sometimes 2 are born at a time.

Maximum Age:

At least 12 years.

Diet:

The walia ibex is a grazer and browser. It eats bushes, herbs, lichens, shrubs, grass, and creepers. The percentages of each of these was found by one study to vary from 30% (bushes) to 10% (creepers). (Dunbar 1978)

Behavior:

The walia ibex is mainly crepuscular.

Social Organization:

Males tend to form larger groups than females (except during the rut). Females form nursery groups during the birth season, rather than becoming solitary as do many ungulates. It has been suggested that this may be due to the risk of attack from large birds of prey (e.g. eagles and vultures). (quoted in Dunbar 1978)

Density and Range:

The home range of the walia ibex is about 10 sq km (4 sq mi). (Stuart & Stuart 1996)


References

Blower 1968, Blower 1970, Burton & Pearson 1987, Cons. Intl. 2005, Curry-Lindahl 1972, Dunbar 1978, Dunbar & Dunbar, Fitter 1974, IUCN 1966, IUCN 1994, IUCN 1996, IUCN 2000, IUCN 2003a, IUCN 2004, Kingdon 1997, Les Moussis, Nowak & Paradiso 1983, Olson & Dinerstein 1998, Olson & Dinerstein 1999, Oryx 1969c, Oryx 1973b, Oryx 1974d, Oryx 1975, Shackleton 1997, Sillero-Zubiri & Macdonald 1997, Simon & Geroudet 1970, Stuart & Stuart 1996


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Last modified: March 7, 2005;

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