Siberian ibex

Capra sibirica

TAXONOMY

Capra sibirica (Pallas, 1776), Sayan Mountains, Siberia, Russia. OTHER COMMON NAMES

English: Asiatic ibex; French: Bouquetin d'Asie; German: Sibirischer steinbock; Spanish: Sakin altai.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

The largest and heaviest member of the genus, with the longest horns. Head and body length 67 in (171 cm), height 43 in (110 cm), and weight 286 lb (130 kg). Horns are scimitarlike, swept back and laterally compressed, with prominent transverse ridges on the front surface and reach 60 in (148 cm). Horns of females are much shorter. Males have a long beard. Color is very variable, from light gray to dark chocolate brown.

DISTRIBUTION

Mountains of United Arab Emirates and northern Oman. Apparently now extinct in United Arab Emirates.

HABITAT

Precipitous mountains and cliffs from 656-5,900 ft (2001,800 m).

BEHAVIOR

Occurs alone or in small groups. Both sexes mark their territory with scrapes in the ground that are regularly renewed.

DISTRIBUTION

Occurs throughout the mountains of Central Asia and the western Himalaya (Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, China, Kyr-gyzstan, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Russia). A small number have been introduced to New Mexico.

HABITAT

Rocky, rugged mountains with cliffs for escape. Occurs around 2,300 ft (700 m) in desert mountains of the Gobi, at 1,970-13,120 ft (600-4,000 m) in the Tien Shan, and 10,500-22,000 ft (3,200-6,710 m) in the Himalaya and Karako-ram Mountains. Altitudinal movements in winter may cover 6,560 ft (2,000 m).

BEHAVIOR

Generally occurs in groups of 5-12, except at the rut when large groups may form (up to 150). Adult males mostly live apart from female and young until the rut.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

Diet known to comprise 140 plant species across the range. Feeds on grasses, sedges, and herbs and also on leaves, shoots, fruit, and lichens.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Polygamous. Males fight for access to females by clashing horns and sideway head thrusts. Mating takes place between October and January depending on elevation and latitude. Gestation is 170-180 days. Twins occur frequently in older females.

CONSERVATION STATUS

Reduced in number in many parts of the range by indiscriminate hunting, but protected in places by precipitous terrain. Some populations are declining, while others are stable. Population estimated at more than 250,000 in 1997, and not considered threatened.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS

Traditionally an important source of meat; skin used for rugs and to make box calf; fur of young animals for fur coats; and horns utilized as wall decorations or as milk containers. Currently a victim of sport hunting. ♦

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