I is for Ibex
Today I’m talking about a type of goat, the alpine ibex, pictured in the photo below, taken by Rick McCharles on Flikr.
This amazing creature, that likes to stand on the brink of the world, was brought back from the brink of extinction by a ban on hunting them, re-introduction, and the formation of protected areas for them to live in.
They eat grasses, moss, flowers, leaves, twigs and lichens, food that is not nutritionally rich, so they have to forage most of the daylight hours.
The males have beautiful, backward curving horns that can reach lengths of 1 metre. Females have smaller horns, also pointing backwards.
Here is an image of a female taken by Guilhem Vellut on Flikr.
These goats can scale sheer cliffs like this because they have specialised hooves – they have sharp rims, and a deeper cleft than normal, making a concave surface that acts like a suction cup.
This means they can climb almost vertical surfaces with little to grip hold of – these are the goats that were photographed by Adriano Migliorati on the precipitous drop of the Cingino Dam, high in the Italian Alps.
Here is a quick poem about them:
The alpine ibex,
an agile goat,
with silky beard
and pale brown coat,
can jump 6 feet
up off the ground,
two sabre horns
curled back and round,
his suction hooves
mean he can roam
stuck to cliff sides
of sheer-drop stone –
King of mountains,
sun or storm,
sees last the night,
sees first the morn.
Poem © Liz Brownlee
Now, I found this video, which is terrible quality, on Youtube. It shows just what extraordinary feats are possible by these goats – in this case, jumping down a precipitous chimney of rocks:
Poem and facts © Liz Brownlee
Photos © Rick McCharles and Guilhem Vellut
If you would like to blog-hop to the next A-Z Challenge blog, please click here.
If you’d like to read about or buy my book, Animal Magic, full of animal poems and fascinating facts, click here.