The Iberian Ibex is the most westerly form of the genus Capra [8]. Once there have been four subspecies. Only two are extant today.


English: Iberian Ibex [11], Spanish Ibex, Spanish Wild Goat [10], etc. see table 1

French: Bouqetin d’Espagne [1, 11], Bouquetin Des Pyrénées [1, 5]

German: Iberischer Steinbock [6, 11], Iberiensteinbock [1, 5] – ((editor’s note: German new spelling rules, K 22: „Man kann einen Bindestrich in unübersichtlichen Zusammensetzungen setzen.“ Accordingly in this case it is advisable to use „Iberien-Steinbock“)), Spanischer Steinbock [4] ((editor’s note: outdated, see Table 1))

Russian: Пиренейский козёл[Wikipedia]

Spanish: Capra montés [1, 11], Capra montesa [5], ibice mediterraneo [2]

Table 1: List of synonyms for Iberian Ibex (C. pyrenaica)

species / subspecies scientific name synonym remarks concerning synonym source for synonym
Iberian Ibex C. pyrenaica Iberian Wild Goat The Iberian Ibex is more closely related to C. ibex than to C. aegagros. [5]
  Spanish Wild Goat „Spanish“ is no longer appropriate, since nowadays it occurs also in Portugal



  Spanish Ibex [2, 5]
Pyrenean Ibex C. p. pyrenaica Bucardo [2, 9]
Portuguese Ibex C. p. lusitanica Mueyu [2]
Victoria Ibex C. p. victoriae
  Western Spanish Ibex occurs nowadays also in the north, including the Pyrenees [1]
  Gredos Ibex not appropriate, if name is used for populations outside Sierra de Gredos [10]
  Central Plateau Ibex not appropriate any more, since the subspecies nowadays occurs beyond the Central Plateau [1]
Hispanic Ibex C. p. hispanica [2]
Southeastern Spanish Ibex [1]
Mediterranean Ibex many subpopulations occur far inland [10]
  Spanish Ibex It seems natural to transliterate the scientific subspecies name into „Spanish“, but it is misleading, since „Spanish Ibex“ is a common synonym for the Iberian Ibex [9]
  Beceite Ibex only reasonable, if used as a local name in their respective ranges [1]
  Cazorla Ibex [9]
  Segura Ibex [9]


Schaller (1977) suggested that the Spanish Ibex should be called the „Spanish Goat“, leaving he name „ibex“ to Capra ibex, although the two are probably closely related. Schaller reasoned that other goats, among them the Wild Goat, Markhor, and Nilgiri Tahr are also called „ibex“ locally, creating much confusion. [8] ((editor’s note: The same problem occurs if „Spanish Goat“ is seen in context with other Wild Goats (Bezoar Wild Goat, Cretan Wild Goat, Chiltan Wild Goat, etc.), with which it is less closely related. Furthermore it seems that in recent years the term „ibex“ is less widely used for Wild Goat, Markhor, and Nilgiri Tahr.))

„Victoria“ in Victoria Ibex (C. p. victoriae) refers to Victoria Eugenia of Spain, queen to King Alfonso XIII. Alfonso XIII was instrumental in saving the remaining herds on the Sierra de Gredos. [2]


Capra pyrenaica Schinz 1838, Pyrenees [5, 11]

Table 2: Other (putative) scientific names

Capra pyrenaica Schinz, 1838 [2]


first description with the assistance of Carl Bruch in: „N. Denkschr. Schweiz. Ges. Natur. Wiss. (2:9): „In den spanischen Pyrenäen, auf den Gebirgen der Sierra de Randa und des Königreiches Granada“ [2]
Aegoceros pyrenaica Gray (1852:147) [2]
Ibex pyrenaicus Gervais (1855:188) [2]
Ammotragus pyrenaicus Nathusius (1888:333) [2]
Turocapra (as a new subgenus of Capra for Capra pyrenaica) De Beaux (1949:17)


Diploid chromosome number: 2n = 60 [11]

This species and the European Ibex (C. ibex) are monophyletic; the two species evolved by vicariance speciation (originally continuously distributed and then separated) from a single immigration of Capra into Europe. [11]

There are four historically recognised subspecies:

Pyrenean Ibex (C. p. pyrenaica) – nominate form, extinct

Portuguese Ibex (C. p. lusitanica) – extinct

Victoria Ibex (C. p. victoriae)

Hispanic Ibex (C. p. hispanica)

Cabrera (1911) differentiated his subspecies on the basis of pelage colour (particularly the extent of the black markings), cross section shape of the horn, and slight skull differences. However, he based his conclusions on few specimens and was unaware of the true extent of the anatomical variation within the species. For example, he was not aware of the geographic variation in horn shape. [10]

Camerano (1917), suggested that C. p. pyrenaica and C. p. hispanica were to be conceded species status and victoriae and lusitanica, which he considered possible hybrids of the former two, only subspecific status; assigning them to the species which bequeathed most characteristics. [2]

Coutourier (1962) and Clouet (1979) also question Cabrera’s subspecies division. [2]

On the basis of mtDNA sequencing, Manceau et al. (1999) found that three specimens from the Pyrenees clustered together, in contrast to specimens from other localities. The support value for the non-Pyreenean clade, was only 73 per cent. [3] Therefore they dismissed the view that hispanica and victoriae are distinct subspecies, but recognized the considerable genetic distance of the two from the two extinct subspecies, pyrenaicaand lusitanica. [2]

Alados (see de Camps Galobart 2009) maintains that the genetic results did not constitute grounds for a re-classification. [2]

Oliva de Suelves (2009) discards the notion of two different subspecies (victoriae and hispanica), citing as reason the median genetic difference between the two „subspecies“ being less than 2,3 per cent. On the other hand, the genetic difference between humans and chimps is less than 2 per cent. [2]

Groves and Grubb (2011) write: „Although we have seen very few specimens, […] we think that all the variation in C. pyrenaica can be ascribed to a major north-south cline, with some additional microgeographic variation. Probably no subspecies can be recognized nomenclaturally.“ [3]

Similar species

The Iberian Ibex (C. pyrenaica) is smaller and more fine-boned than the Alpine Ibex (C. ibex). [6] Iberian Ibex, Walia Ibex, and Nubian Ibex are similar in having blackish chests and upper forelegs, dark leg markings, whitish undersides, dark foreheads, and a body colour ranging from brown to buff. [8]


This species historically occurred throughout the Iberian Peninsula, including southwest France, Spain, Andorra, and Portugal (Grubb, 2005). It became extinct in the northern part of its range (including in France and Andorra), and no longer occured in the Pyrenees. Of the four described subspecies, only two are extant: C. p. victoriae and C. p. hispanica [5]. Over the last decades the two remaining subspecies have expanded their ranges. Presently they occupy more than 60.000 km² of the Iberian Peninsula [2].

The Victoria Ibex (C. p. victoriae) occurs mainly in North and West Spain and has been introduced to North Portugal [11] and the Pyrenees (an introduction program started 2014. [12]

Table 3: Areas with Victoria Ibex (C. p. victoria)

region remarks source
Sierra de Gredos autochthonous [2, 5]
Sierra de Guadarrama (Segovia) –  north of Madrid introduced [2]
Cuenca Alta del Manzanares (Madrid) introduced [2]
Montes del Invernadero (Orense) – north of the Portuguese-Spanish border introduced [2]
Natural Parque Serra do Xurés, Orense introduced [2]
Batuecas, Salamanca Province – north of Sierra de Gredos introduced [2, 5]
La Pedriza (Madrid), introduced [2, 5]
Riserva Nacional de Riaño (Leon) introduced [2, 5]
Peneda-Gerês National Park, Portugal introduced [5]
Castilla la Mancha (Montes de Toledo, Sierra Madrona, Sierra Morena, Alto Tajo, Serrania de Cuenca, Casas Ibanez, and south of Albacete) introduced [2]


The Victoria Ibex was at one point limited to a single population in the Sierra Gredos Hunting Reserve, which encompasses the central area and highest elevations of a mountain chain in the Central Orogenic System, west of Madrid. [9]

The Hispanic Ibex (C. p. hispanica) occurs in South and Eastern Spain. [11]

Table 4: Some areas with Hispanic Ibex (C. p. hispanica)

region remarks source
Sierras Béticas, Southern Spain [2]
Monserrat – close to Barcelona isolated massif [2]
El Maestrazgo – Castellon and Teruel provinces self-established [2]
Muela de Cortes – Valencia Province self-established [2]
Sierra Sur – Sevilla [2]
Southern Cordoba [2]
Sierra Alhamilla – Almeria [2]
Murcia self-established [2]
Sierra Moren (Sierra Madrona) – Castilla-la-Mancha [2]
near Granada and Malaga (Cerro Gordo-Maro) [2]
Natural Parks Sierra Magina [9]
Sierra del Castril [9]
Sierra de Huetor [9]
Sierra de las Nieves [9]
Sierra de Grazalema [9]
Sierra Nevada [9]
Rock of Gibraltar no longer [5]
Cazorla (Cazorla-Segura, Huescar, Sierra Morena) [2]
Hunting Reserves Sierra de Tajada y Almijara [9]
Puertos de Tortosa y Beceite major population [2, 9]
Muela de Cortes [9]
Batuecas [9]


Each of the two subspecies occupies a different geographical area, for the most part, and the populations are generally separated, although exceptions through natural expansion and artificial translocations did occur. Some hybridisation might have occurred. [2]

According to Acevedo and Cassinello (2008), the dividing line between the two subspecies goes from the southwestern corner of Extremadura in a north-easterly direction bisecting Castilla-La-Mancha, towards the easternmost extension of Madrid and from there more directly north, west of the Aragon border. [2]

Engländer (1986) describes that Iberian Ibex (C. pyrenaica) occured formerly also in South West France during the ice age (early Upper Pleistocene). It became replaced in the latest Pleistocene by the Alpine Ibex (C. ibex). [3]

The extinct Pyrenean Ibex (C. pyrenaica pyrenaica) once occured in the Pyrenees, in Spain, Andorra and France [6]. At one point it was restricted to the Spanish Pyrenees on Monte Perdido and Maladeta Massif, and was at last seen at Ordesa National Park in the Aragon District of the Pyrennees. [9] Meanwhile it has been replaced with C. p. victoriae. [12]

The extinct Portuguese Ibex (C. pyrenaica lusitanica) inhabited the Sierra de Geres (Alados 1985). [9] It has also been replaced with C. p. victoriae. [12]


head-body males: 108-155 cm [11]

head-body females: 97-130 cm [11]

shoulder hight males: 65-89 cm [11]

shoulder hight females: 65-76 cm [11]

weight males: 50,4-90 kg [11]; up to 90 kg after reaching the ninth year of age [2]; males can be 50 per cent larger than females. [11]

average weight victoriae (Gredos): 75 kg [2]

average weight hispanica (southern sierras): 65 kg [2]

weight females: 31,3-41 kg [11]; maximum 40 kg [2]

weight hispanica females: 31-37 kg [2]

The weight diminishes with advancing age in both sexes because of dental deficiencies (worn down incisors). [2]

tail: 12-13 cm [11]; 12-15 cm [2]

longest body hair: mane; can be seen even in summer coat [2]

winter pelage: consisting of an external waterproof layer with hard hair and an internal fleece that insulates the animal from cold [2]

beard: present only in males; less conspicuous in summer; disappearing almost completely in younger males during the summer [2]

forehead: thickly padded with hair [2]

Various authors agree that there is a north-south cline concerning body size and weight, with heavier specimens in the north [2, 3].

Table 5: Measurements of Iberian Ibex subspecies,  showing a progressive reduction in size from north to south (Engländer, 1986)  [3]:

subspecies scientific name body length (cm)
Pyrenean Ibex C. p. pyrenaica 148,0
Portuguese Ibex C. p. lusitanica 142,0
Victoria Ibex C. p. victoriae 135,5
Hispanic Ibex C. p. hispanica 121,0


longevity: males usually do not get past 16 years, however a 17-year old male and a 21-year old female from Sierra de Gredos are known. [2]

Colouration / Pelage

The pelage colour varies depending on the season, sex and age of the individuals. The coat colour of males gets progressively darker with age. [2]

adult males in winter: greyish to pale brown with whitish parts [11]

whitish parts in male winter pelage: sides of head, throat, upper front and sides of neck, upper sides of body, extending to the hindquarters [11]

black parts in male winter pelage: forehead, beard, front and back of neck, chest, brisket, front of shoulder, legs [11]

general pelage colour of adult females and younger individuals: reddish-ochre [2]

dorsal stripe: black; from the nape extending to the tail; bristles when the animal is alarmed [2]

underparts in winter: black [11]

rump patch: narrow white; not extending above the base of tail; continuous with the white of the back of the hindlegs and white belly [11]

change of coat: in the south (Sierra Nevada): end of May; in Central Spain (Gredos): first half of June; tufts of shed fleece can be observed clinging to brush, rocks, etc. [2]

There seems to be a cline in colour, the northern Ibex being darker, with a more strongly expressed pattern of dark markings; although in the Sierra des Gredos, in Central Spain, the dark markings may be often so strong that in summer they seem almost black. Engländer (1986) also stated that on the Sierra des Gredos there are Ibex corresponding to all four of Cabrera’s described subspecies. [3]

Matschei (2012) sees two clines in pelage contrast, one increasing from south to north, and one increasing from west to north. Therefore he sees the Pyrenean Ibex as the most conspicuous subspecies and the Hispanic and Portuguese forms as the most unremarkable. According to Matschei differences in pelage patterns are most prominent during the summer. During the winter differences may blur. Nevertheless in general specimens are overall darker during winter time. [6]

The extension of dark pelage areas can be used in age assessment (Losa 1997, notes to Franco), whereby the black sections of the pelage are considerably more extensive in the Victoria Ibex than in the Hispanic Ibex [2]:

Table 6: Age classes of Iberian Ibex and black sections of the pelage

young males, 1-5 years do not show any uniform (closed) dark area in the shoulder-blade region, but rather individual dark spots
males of middle age from 6-9 years relatively large uniformly dark area on the front half of their body
mature males older than 9 years usually dark pelage colouration on the body including the rump
prime and post-prime males older than 12 increasingly grizzled appearance with white hair growing between the long black hair

The horns of Iberian Ibex show great variation. [11] Even within the same herd, there are substantial differences in horn shape. [2] They can be similar in shape to that of the Daghestan Tur (Capra cylindricornis), Aoudad (Ammotragus lervia), and Bharal (Pseudois sp.). [6]

male horns: in general grow upward, then curve out and back, with the tips pointing up or down [11]. They are heavy, corrugated and much longer than those of ewes [2], and typically show a heteronymous twist (the left horn forming a right-hand spiral and the right horn a left-hand spiral) with a weakly developed front keel and a sharp posterior keel (Valdez 1985). [2]

female horns: The much shorter horns of females grow up and back [11]. They are thinner, do not show keeling, tend to have inward turned tips and are nearly smooth. [2]

horn length males: 42-101 cm [11]

horn length females: 13,5-28,7 cm [11]

horn basal circumference males: 20-26 cm [11]

horn basal circumference females: 8,6-14 cm [11]

distance between horns: in males relatively small, rarely exceeding 1 cm; in mature females it is on average 3 cm; the outer distance is 10 cm [2]

Damm and Franco (2014) doubt that the highly variable horns of male Iberian Ibex can be used as a taxonomic criterion – to separate subspecies. For them horn shape and growth (length and thickness) of male Iberian Ibex are an expression of „phenotype plasticity under the influence of environmental factors“. [2]

They  distinguish basically four different horn types: 1. airplane shape; 2. ibex shape; 3. sheep shape; 4. lyre shape. Examples of all four different horn configurations can be found in every population and even within the same herd. A differentiation of subspecies on horn shape must therefore be rejected. [2] Nevertheless others have correlated subspecies and horn lengths – see table 7. Table 8 lists locations, where certain horn types have been documented.

Table 7: Horn measurements of the four Iberian Ibex subspecies [3]

subspecies scientific name mean horn length (cm) basal girth (cm) horn span (cm) remarks
Pyrenean Ibex C. p. pyrenaica at 80,0 20,0-22,0 42,0 longest horns
Portuguese Ibex C. p. lusitanica 44,5 23,5 25,0 shortest and stoutest horns – few measure-ments
Victoria Ibex C. p. victoriae 73,0-73,4 20,0-22,0 47,0 intermediate
Hispanic Ibex C. p. hispanica 73,0-73,4 18,9 29,4


For Matschei (2012) the Portuguese Ibex differs most conspicuously in horn length and form. Horns are relatively short and less laterally curved. Horn length of the typus form is 36 cm. A specimen from the Coimbra Museum has 48 cm long horns. Horn lengths of females are also very short: 18 cm. [6]

Table 8: Locations / subspecies, which appear to have a tendency towards a certain horn type

location sourcre
airplane shape El Maestrazgo region (from Tortosa-Beceite to Cortes de Pallás) [2]
ibex shape Sierra Blanca, southern tip of Spain, Andalusia, Malaga Province Engländer (1986) [3]
Hispanic Ibex population in Malaga Province [2]
sheep shape „ranges of the far south“ Engländer (1986) [3]
Sierra de Cázulas (near Granada) – occasionally [2]
Las Batuecas, Sierra de Francia in Salamanca Province, Castilla y Leon, Central Spain
lyre shape Victoria Ibex populations (irrespective of locality) [2]
mix of all four horn configurations Sierra de Grazalema, southern tip of Spain [2]


age determination based on horns: The age of male ibex can be estimated fairly accurately by counting the horn growth annuli. [2]

determining sex in young based on horns: The horns of male lambs at the age of six months pass the tips of the ears. In female lambs, six months of age, the horn tips do not reach the ear tips. [2]


Elevations range from near sea level to 3.500 metres. Habitats range from alpine to subalpine and lower elevations in open and closed pine and oak forests, shrublands, areas dominated by grasses and forbs, and mixtures of these types and, rarely, cultivated fields. These habitats are in or in proximity to rocky, rough, precipitous terrain that is essential for escape cover. [11]

Even small rocky patches in arable farmland and on the coast may be used. [5]

Tall vegetation, when available, is used for thermal cover. But females occupy habitats with a lower component of tall vegetation, probably to better detect predators, and closer to rugged terrain, especially during and after parturition. After the breeding season, males may spend the summer in forested areas. Larger mixed groups usually occur in open areas where visual communication is facilitated. [11]

Habitat and elevation: Iberian Ibexes use lower-elevation habitats in winter and higher elevations in spring and summer. In areas with a high-elevation component, 80 per cent of the population in summer is above 2.300 metres between July and September. In some areas, habitat use may be influenced by human disturbance: the Ibexes may select habitats of lower quality that are farther from humans. [11]

On the other hand Iberian Ibex are known to live in very close proximity to humans. It is therefore a familiar and popular species. But it is sometimes also considered an agricultural pest, causing damage to almond trees. It disperses readily and can rapidly colonise new areas if appropriate habitat is available. [5]

Food and feeding

The Iberian Ibex is a mixed feeder: Browsing or grazing depends on availability. In spring and early summer they tend to select forbs and grasses. Generally the type of resource consumed varies attitudinally ((editor’s note: This is rather unlikely; presumably this is a misspelling and should be „altitudinally“)), geographically and seasonally. [2]

Altitudinal variation: In the Gredos Mountains, where browse availability is low, grasses constitute 80 per cent of diets in spring and summer, 75 per cent in autumn, and 69 per cent in winter. In higher-elevation mountains (Sierra Nevada) in south-eastern Spain, diets consisted of 80 per cent grasses in July and 58 per cent in August. In lower-elevation mountains, browse predominated. Annual diets were 72,4 per cent browse, 8,4 per cent forbs, and 19,2 per cent grasses. [11]

A third of the plant species is used: Of the 126 plant species available, 36 species were detected in fecal samples. [11]

Diets were most influenced by plant diversity and structure, accessibility, and seasonal precipitation: In southern Spain, young animals were principally grazers, adult males were browsers, and females were intermediate feeders. The greater the availability of palatable forage, the greater the amount of time spent foraging. [11]

Population density is negatively correlated with diet diversity [11]: The more diverse the habitat is, the fewer animals live per area.

Diet overlap: In areas where foraging of Iberian Ibexes, domestic sheep (Ovis aries), domestic goats (Capra hircus), free-ranging Mouflons (Ovis aries musimon), and Fallow Deer (Dama dama) were sympatric, diet overlap was greater between wild and free-ranging domestic species than between wild and domestic ungulates. All species increased their intake of browse during winter, which was the season when competition was most likely to occur. There was a greater diversity of diet in wild species, and diversity of diets increased with decreasing ungulate densities. There was also a high dietary overlap of browse between Iberian Ibexes and Red Deer (Cervus elaphus). [11]

Predators / Mortality

Wolves (Canis lupus), Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes), Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos)are potential predators.


mating: November-December [11]; mid-November-early January [2]

peak of the rut in Gredos: 4-week period from middle of November to middle of December [2]

breeding behaviour: males are polygynous, mating with several females; older males do most of the mating [11]; adult males cover large distances in search of ovulating ewes, fighting vigorously, by means of head butting, over the right to breed. Usually one dominant male and several subordinates associate with multiple females. There is a strict hierarchy of dominance among the males, and the dominant one is first in line for breeding. The females in estrus are selective in their breeding partners, usually the dominant courting male gets the first chance and lesser males that attempt to engage the female are actively evaded. This behaviour is a clear indication that the females‘ endeavours to select a genetically superior partner.

ovulation in adult females: probably stimulated by the presence of adult males [11]

gestation: 175-185 days [11]; 155-160 days [2]

first year of females giving birth: at age 3 [11]

females may be reproductive until: age of 13 [11]

time of parturition: May-early June [11]

prior to parturition: females separate from young of the previous year and most yearlings leave female herds. [11]

place of parturition: rugged, rocky, steep terrain, where newborns are safer from predators [11]

habitat used by females with young: tall vegetation, probably because it affords cover [11]

suckling rate: in South-eastern Spain, neonates suckle 3,3 times/hour, but after a week, suckling frequency decreases to 1,6 times/hour [11]

duration of suckling bouts: during the same period (see above) the duration decreased from 77 seconds to 26,5 seconds. [11]

ratio of young (0-1 year old) per female: ranged from 0,3 to 0,58 in one population during six years and 0,68 to 0,81 in another population during two years [11]. Accordingly the frequency of twinning is interpreted differently: „rare“ [11]; „not rare“ [2]

higher survival of young: correlated with higher spring precipitation and lower adult densities [11]

yearling survival: positive correlation between survival and annual precipitation in August and September [11]

longevity of females: 15 years in the wild [11]

Activity pattern

Foraging usually occurs in early morning and late in the day, with a midday rest period. Iberian Ibex were observed feeding at night during summer and on moonlit nights. Adult females spend more time feeding during winter and spring than during the autumn mating season and summer. Females become more mobile in spring, when forage availability increases, and they engage in more agonistic behaviour. Adult males spend more time in social interactions than females. In high-elevation area, they use south-facing slopes in autumn and winter, and north-east-facing slopes during warm weather in spring and summer. In all seasons except winter, they use east-facing slopes in mornings and west-facing slopes in afternoons. [11] Their senses of sight, smell and hearing are very well developed. [2]

Movements / home range / social organisation

Segregation: In spring, males form separate herds from females and occupy different elevations. Segregation occurs even in areas where they occupy the same elevation. [11] Old males live year-round somewhat away from the herds; they are often accompanied by a couple of younger males. In autumn, males actively search out and mix with the ewe herds. During this time, mixed-sex herds of adults split away from mixed-sex herds containing juveniles. [2]

Iberian Ibexes have a high dispersal ability, about 1,2 to 1,8 kilometres per year. [11]

In high-elevation areas, there is a seasonal movement from lower elevations in winter to increasingly higher elevations as the snow line recedes. [11]

Home ranges are larger in spring than in winter. Most densities recorded varied between 1,2 ind/km² and 4,4 ind/km², with the highest density exceeding 15 ind/km². In south-eastern Spain, females with young have larger home ranges (mean of 0,72 km²) than females without young (0,14 km²). Females of different ages did not have significant differences in home range size. In higher-elevation mountains, females‘ home ranges were 1,94 km² in autumn and 3,21 km² in spring. Population density, forage availability, and plant density influence home range size. [11]

Herds vary in size: from small groups of three or more, up to herds of 80 to 100 plus (Oliva de Suelves 1998). [2]

Table 9: Annual male population age structure in southern Spain from 1982 to 1987 [11]:

0,2 years             27,9-43,2 %

2-4 years             9,2-23,5 %

4-6 years             10,2-21,8 %

6-8 years             8-17,3 %

8-10 years           5,8-18,7 %

10 years                0,01-9,2 %

Adult sex ratios were 1-100 males: 77-192 females.

During the monitoring of two populations for a total of nine years (one population for five years and the other for four years), the sex ratio favoured females in only one year, indicating that during the first year, males had a higher survival rate, but adult sex ratios favoured females due to the higher mortality of adult males. The highest percentage of mixed herds is in October (36,8 per cent), November (63,6 per cent), and December (45,2 per cent), which coincides with the mating season. [11]

Ratios of yearling males to yearling females were 100:14-170. [11]

Iberian Ibex disperses readily and can rapidly colonise new areas, if appropriate habitat is available, although areas with high permanent snow cover in winter is avoided. [2]


IUCN classifies Rupicapra rupicapraas „least concern“ (date assessed: 2008-06-30) [5]

The countrywide total estimate ranges between 50.000 (mature individuals) [5, 11]; about 72.500 (Centenera 2011) and 90.000 Ibex (Oliva des Suelves in Camps Galobart 2009) [2]

Numbers have expanded dramatically since the early 1990s, when the total population was estimated at ca. 7.900 individuals (Shackleton 1997). [5]

According to the total estimate the region figures also vary: Listed here are the figures of Damm and Franco (2014) with 15.000 Victoria Ibex in Gredos, La Pedriza, Las Batuecas and Riaño, and about 57.500 Hispanic Ibex in most mountain ranges in the southwest and along the Mediterranean coast, and also in the interior. Andalusia alone has around 40.000 Ibex (Centenera 2011). [2] More figures – some probably outdated – are presented in Table 5.

This species is now abundant and its range and population are currently expanding as a result of habitat changes resulting from rural abandonment. Hunting reservations and protected areas have played a crucial role in the species recovery. [5]

With an estimated annual population growth rate of 20 to 30 per cent owing to the absence of most large predators in Spain, the Ibex population can essentially double within 5 years if there is no disease outbreak and if environmental conditions (weather and habitat) remain favourable (Losa Huecas in de Camps Galobart 2009). [2]

However the species is still listed as Critically Endangered in Portugal, owing to its very small population – about 75 to 100 [5, 11] – in that country (Cabral et al.2005). [5]

Table 5: Iberian Ibex populations

region population size source
Sierra Nevada 16.000 (Pérez et al.2002, J. Herrero and J. M. Pérez pers. comm. 2006). [5]
Sierra de Gredos 8.000
Maestrazgo 7.000
Serranía de Ronda and Sierras de Grazalema 4.000
Puertos de Tortosa y Beceite Natural Park 4.000
Cazorla 2.500
Sierra Tejeda y Almijara 2.500
Sierras de Antequera 2.000
Sierra Morena 2.000
Muela de Córtes 1.500
Portuguese population 75 / 100 Moço et al.2006 [5] / [11]


The whole population is devided in more than 50 subpopulations (Palomo and Gisbert 2002, Pérez et al.2002). [5] In recent years the number of individual population nuclei has very likely increased. [2]


No threats are causing population or range declines at present – indeed the species is expanding. [5]

However, alteration and fragmentation of habitats (through agriculture, forestry, fires, and infrastructure development) may impact upon certain Capra pyrenaicapopulations. [5]

The impact of hunting (predominantly for trophies) has not been scientifically assessed (J. M. Pérez pers. comm. 2006), but the poaching of large dominant males might alter gene flow (J. Herrero pers. comm. 2006). Wild goats are occasionally killed by accident during wild boar hunting-drives with dogs (J. Herrero pers. com. 2006). However, hunting levels are broadly under control. [5] On the other hand the Iberian Ibex has become an economically and culturally important hunting species. As the species can sometimes be an agricultural pest in the more southern ranges – damaging almond trees, for instance – hunting contributes to the species‘  conservation as an important source of compensatory revenue to rural communities. Crop losses are offset and landowner tolerance increases towards the Iberian Ibex‘ continued and expanding presence. [2]

Outbreaks of mange (Sarcoptes scabiei) occur sporadically and have caused at least one major population crash (Shackleton 1997, Palomo and Gisbert 2002). [5] High-density population seem to be more susceptible. An outbreak of sarcoptic mange in Cazorla (1988) resulted in a 90 per cent population decline (Leon Vizcaino et al. 1999, 2011). [2]

Livestock is a concern because domesticated animals may be forage and space competitors, displacing Ibexes from optimal habitats, and are capable of transmitting diseases to wild populations. [11] But it seems the issue is less of a problem today. [5]

Competition with the introduced the Aoudad (Ammotragus lervia) might become a conservation problem in the near future (Cabral et al.2005, J. M. Pérez pers. comm. 2006). The aoudad was introduced during the 1970s in south-eastern Spain, and recently an important range expansion of this exotic ungulate has been reported (Cassinello et al.2004). [5]

Habitat overuse by Ibex themselves has been mentioned as a significant problem in some areas, especially where the populations are not hunted (e. g. Madrid). [2]

Castello (2016) mentions tourism as „the biggest threat“. [1] ((editor’s note: In the first place Castello doesn’t refer to a source, on the other hand it is highly confusing to mention a „biggest threat“ for a species that has increased its numbers steadily.))


According to Cabrera (1914) the Gredos population (C. p. victoriae) had been reduced to one adult male, seven females and some three or four lambs at the beginning of the 20th century. However Luis Sanchez-Hernandez writes in „Tras las Monteses de la Sierra Madrona“ (2010, pages 222 and 223) that the founder population was probably considerably larger, which is borne out by the census number of 1907 which counted 300 individuals. [2]

In any case the precarious situation caused King Alfonso XIII to declare a part of the Gredos Mountains as „Real Coto de Gredos“. The king thus initiated the recuperation of this iconic subspecies. The Hispanic Ibex (C. p. hispanica)– also heavily reduced – had apparently enough population nuclei left to survive on its own. [2]

Iberian Ibex have reoccupied areas through restoration programs and natural dispersal where they were extirpated; e.g. subspecies victoriaerecently expanded into northern Portugal, reestablishing a population there. [5]. Most of the translocations were carried during the 1980s and 1990s (Acevedo and Cassinello 2008). [2]

Conservation and hunting: The designation of several hunting reserves, beginning with the Real Coto de Gredos on the initiative of King Alfonso XIII, and continuing with the creation of National Hunting Reserves by the Spanish Central Administration – as well as efforts by the owners of private hunting grounds – have been instrumental in the spectacular recovery of the Iberian Ibex. Damm and Franco (2014) see Spanish and visiting hunters as a „powerful economic engine“ for the Iberian Ibex recovery. [2]

For further re-introductions, introductions and translocations the natural and historical distribution areas need to be considered. Mixing of the two subspecies should be avoided (Alados in de Camps Galobart 2009). [2]


The Iberian Ibex is an important trophy-hunting species [5], in fact it is the highest priced game mammal in Spain [11]. Some trophy prices exceed EUR 2.000 (J. Herrero pers. comm. 2006). About 1.500 are legally killed each year. [11]Therefore hunting can be an important source of revenue to local communities in rural areas. [5]

Hunting Iberian Ibex is generally permitted on private and public grounds. Hunting permits are usually given – in accord with approved management plans – for mature trophy or representative males, younger males of perceived inferior quality (selectivos), as well as for a limited number of usually older females. [2]

There are two hunting seasons – one in fall/winter and another on in spring, but between the various autonomous regions the dates differ considerably. Prerequisites, such as licenses and exanimations, as well as fees charged, also differ. Hunters usually have to be accompanied by an official warden or game guard assigned by the local jurisdiction. [2]

Hunting and trophy quality: The Spanish Junta Nacional de Homologación de Trofeos de Caza (JNHTC) measures and records Iberian Ibex trophies according to the copyrighted CIC trophy measuring systems. The database of JNHTC is extremely detailed and covers the period from 1950 to present. The JNHTC database shows a clear tendency of continuous and significant quality improvement. The JNTHC is convinced that male ibex which have reached and passed an age of 12 or 13 years have also passed into the post-prime age bracket and are usually excluded from impregnating females. Therefore JNTHC discourages hunters harvesting males below 10 years of age and promote targeting males over 13 years. [2]

On the other hand annual hunting quotas need to achieve a better mix of mature Spanish Ibex and younger males, but even more importantly, optimize the quotas for females and sub-adults of either sex to solve an imbalance of sexes, and the sometimes undesirably high population numbers. This will address the problems associated with a healthy age pyramid and create robust demographics within the individual populations. [2]


The Iberian Ibex is an attractive and sought after species by tourists and photographers that enhances the quality of some tourist hot spots like El Torcal, El Burgo or Gredos Mountains.

But there is also concern of human disturbance in protected areas, which could displace Iberian Ibex from preferred habitats and result in decreased body condition and productivity. [11]

Literature cited

[1] Castelló, José R., 2016: Bovids of the World – Antelopes, Gazelles, Cattle, Goats, Sheep, and Relatives. Princeton University Press

[2] Damm, Gerhard R. and Franco, Nicolás, 2014: The CIC Caprinae Atlas of the World – CIC International Council for Game and Wildlife Conservation, Budakeszi, Hungary in cooperation with Rowland Ward Publications RSA (Pty) Ltd., Johannesburg, South Africa

[3] Groves, Colin and Grubb, Peter, 2011: Ungulate Taxonomy. The John Hopkins University Press

[4] Grzimek, Bernhard (Hrsg.), 1988: Grzimeks Enzyklopädie, Säugetiere, Band 5. Kindler Verlag, München

[5] Herrero, J. & Pérez, J.M. 2008. Capra pyrenaica. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species2008: e.T3798A10085397. Downloaded on 21 May 2019.

[6] Matschei, Christian, 2012: Böcke, Takine & Moschusochsen. Filander Verlag

[7] Meile, Peter; Giacometti, Marco and Ratti, Peider, 2003: Der Steinbock – Biologie und Jagd. Salm Verlag 2003, Bern

[8] Schaller, George B., 1977: Mountain Monarchs – wild sheep and goats of the Himalaya. The University of Chicago Press

[9] Shackleton, D. M (ed.) and the IUCN/SSC Caprinae Specialist Group, 1997: Wild Sheep and Goats and their Relatives. Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan for Caprinae. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK. 390 + vii pp

[10] Valdez, Raul, 1985: Lords of the Pinnacles – Wild Goats of the World. Wild Sheep and Goat International, Mesilla, New Mexico.

[11] Wilson, D. E. and Mittermeier, R. A. [eds], 2011: Handbook of the mammals of the world. Vol. 2. Hoofed mammals. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.


[12] Cruège, Matthieu (Directeur de la publication): Le Retour du Bouquetin dans les Pyrenees.URL:, date of retrieval: 2019-05-29