Capra nubiana, or the Nubian ibex, is the only ibex species adapted to life in hot, arid regions of the world. Capra nubiana was once widespread in the mountainous regions of northeastern Africa and the Middle East. Estimates of the full extent of this geographic range are based on ancient drawings and bone remnants. Presently, C. nubiana occurs in isolated populations in pockets of the coastal regions of northeastern Africa, the Sinai Peninsula, and the southeastern tip and western portion of the Arabian Peninsula.
Biogeographic Regions: palearctic (Native )
In Africa, Nubian Ibex exist as small isolated populations in the Eastern Desert and Red Sea Mountains of Egypt. Confirmed ibex occurrences in Egypt’s Eastern Desert are: Moattum/Qattamiya hills, Gabal Attaqa, El Galala El Bahariya Plateau, and El Galala El Quiblia Plateau (Saleh, in Alkon in press). Ibex also occur throughout the Red Sea Mountains of Egypt, from Gabal Gharib in the north to Elba near the Sudan border (Alkon in press). Recent records in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula come from Gabal El Maghara, Gabal El Halal and Gabal Yalag in north Sinai, the El Tih Plateau in central Sinai, and at many sites in the south Sinai mountains (Saleh and Basuony 1998). A discussion of the historical ecology and biogeography of the Nubian Ibex in Egypt from 1800 to the present day is given by Manlius (2001).
In Sudan, small Nubian Ibex populations were observed at Erkawit, Jebel Ashat and Sherik Gebel during a 1990 survey (Nimir 1997), and the species likely occurs elsewhere in the country’s Red Sea hills (I.M. Hashim, in Alkon in press).
Although previously recorded near the Sudan border, there are no confirmed recent records available for Eritrea (Hillman and Yohannes 1997, D. Zinner pers. comm.). Nubian Ibex had been reported in extreme northern Ethiopia (Yalden et al. 1984), but the only recent record is an unconfirmed report from the Tendaho Estates area in east-central Ethiopia near the Djibouti border (Hillman et al. 1997).
In Israel, its former range is believed to approximate the present natural distribution of ibex, although populations were probably smaller prior to the 1960s. Today, ibex naturally occur in three major centers comprising mountainous and steep terrain in eastern and southern Israel: Judean desert, Negev, and Elat mountains. Substantial interchange of animals is likely within each of the major ranges, and is also likely between portions of the Judean desert and Negev populations. Ibex inhabiting the Elat mountains may be separated from other ibex in Israel, but more research is required to define connections among ibex populations in the country (Shkedy and Saltz 2000). The small, population of the Golan (Israeli occupied Syria) represents re-introduction.
In Jordan, ibex is currently confined to remote areas of rugged, mountainous terrain from the north-eastern escarpment of the Dead Sea, south along the Rift valley to Wadi Araba, and further south-east in the mountains of Wadi Rum (Hays and Bandak 1997). It is also recorded from Wadi Zerqa Main and Aqaba (Harrison 1968a).
In Lebanon, ibex were previously found in Barouk, the Ammiq mountains and on Mount Harmon, northern Lebanon until the early 1900s; they are now extinct (Serhal 1997).
Nubian Ibex may have occurred in the western Hajr mountains in northern Oman (Harrison 1967, 1968a; Harrison and Bates 1991), but as this was a single observation and there have been none since, it is possible that they are now absent or never existed as a viable population in this region. Currently, its known distribution is patchy and extends along the coastline in rugged terrain, south from the Huquf escarpment (approximately 21”N) to the border with Yemen. Five populations are known within this region, based on isolated sightings: Huquf Janaba Hills, Ra’s Madrakah, Jabal Samhan, and Jabal al Qamr. Recent evidence from radio-tracked individuals caught and released on the Huquf escarpment indicates that there is some movement of animals between the Huquf and Janaba Hills populations (Daly et al. 1997).
In Saudi Arabia, few systematic censuses have been made. Most data come from brief aerial and ground reconnaissance surveys made to locate populations. Among the 15 sites where ibex have been found, major concentrations occur in the western mountains of the Arabian shield, with isolated populations located in the north, north-central and central regions. Only scattered observations have been made in the south. The highest densities appear to be in Jabal Qaraqar, Hemah Fiqrah and Hawtat bani Tamim Ibex Reserve (Habibi and Tatwany 1997).
Based on records provided in Harrison (1968), Nubian Ibex was found in Syria in the Jabal ash-Sharqi mountain ranges north of Dimasq which run southwest-northeast, as far as Halab (Aleppo) and to just south of Tadmur (Palmyra), presumably in the Jabal al Khunayzir. There are apparently no recent records of the species in Syria (Masseti 2004), and it is believed to be extinct (Serhal 1997), apart from the re-introduced population in the Golan Heights. A female from the mountains east of El Qaryatein was collected in 1905 (Masseti 2004), and the last published record of a sighting is that of Maydon (1930) who recorded the species in the Jabal el Abtar, southwest of Tadmor (Harrison 1968a, Harrison and Bates 1991), although according to recent interviews with local people at Palmyra the species may have survived in the Tadmor region into the second half of the 1900s (G. Serra pers. comm. in Masseti 2004).
This ibex was also previously reported from the mountains in south-east Yemen which join with the Dhofar mountains of Oman (Harrison 1968). No recent surveys of current distributions have been made; however, it appears to still exist in greatly reduced numbers in the remotest regions of the dry mountains of the Hadramawt in the east (C. Stuart, in Shackleton 1997).
Distribution in Egypt
Narrow (Sinai, Eastern Desert).
Nubian ibex are one of the smallest ibex species and are sexually dimorphic. A female ibex is, on average, about one-third the size of a male. Males have an average weight of 62.5 kg, females average 26.5 kg. Shoulder height averages 75 cm in males and 65 cm in females. Total body length is 125 cm in males and 105 cm in females.
The overall color of Capra nubiana individuals is a uniform tan (matching the surrounding rocky arid environs) with patches of black and white on the legs and a white underbelly. There is a color change that begins in August, where males become dark brown to black on their necks, chests, shoulders, sides of the belly, front side of the thighs, and upper forelegs. Males have long dark beards, which are used for scent marking and to excite the females during rutting. Older females also grow beards.
Both males and females have horns, which are used for fighting, sexual selection, and territorial defense. A male’s horns are large, dark, and semi-circular, with annual rings on the back. The annuli grow twelve to twenty centimeters during the first five years of life, and then grow between two to four centimeters per year thereafter. Total length of the horns may reach 120 cm. The horns on an individual may have shorter annuli because of physical hardships during periods of drought or disease. The horn length in females reaches around 35 cm.
Range mass: 25 to 70 kg.
Range length: 105 to 125 cm.
Other Physical Features: endothermic ; homoiothermic; bilateral symmetry
Sexual Dimorphism: male larger; sexes colored or patterned differently; male more colorful; ornamentation
Nubian ibex inhabit mountainous regions including gorges, outcrops, and scree areas in arid regions with sparse vegetation. They occur at varying elevations, from sea level to 3,000 meters. Generally, Nubian ibex inhabit the most remote, highest, and steepest cliffs.
Range elevation: 0 to 3000 m.
Habitat Regions: temperate ; terrestrial
Terrestrial Biomes: desert or dune ; mountains
Habitat and Ecology
Due to heat and water constraints, Nubian ibex usually feed during the night or twilight hours, and occasionally during the day. They descend to lower elevations to feed. The main diet includes herbs, shrubs, tree foliage (especially Acacia), buds, fruits, and occasionally grass. Nubian ibex especially prefer cadaba (Cadaba spp.) and camphorweed (Pluchea spp.). Nubian ibex forage in patches of high quality and where water is in close proximity. They drink water every day if available.
Plant Foods: leaves; wood, bark, or stems; seeds, grains, and nuts; flowers
Primary Diet: herbivore (Folivore )
Caprinae as a group is catholic in their diet, exhibiting a large range of foraging niches, with a generalized and adaptive diet. They often live in habitats with low primary productivity. Nubian ibex are expanding specialist feeders, meaning individuals forage selectively on plants of higher quality in large patches, and hence increase herbivory on all the plants in the patch.
Grackles (Quiscalus sp.) have been known to groom Nubian ibex in a reciprocally beneficial act. They eat insects and parasites on skin of the ibexes.
- grackles (Quiscalus)
Probable predators of Nubian ibex include leopards (Panthera pardus), wolves (Canis lupus), striped hyenas (Hyaena hyaena) and humans. Young ibex may also be preyed on by golden eagles (Aquila chrysaetos) and eagle owls (Bubo bubo). Proximity to cliff edges directly reduces the risk of predation, and Nubian ibex therefore spends much of their time on rock faces. The risk of predation for adult males is low; hence they may live in smaller group sizes.
- leopards (Panthera pardus)
- wolves (Canis lupus)
- striped hyenas (Hyaena hyaena)
- humans (Homo sapiens)
- golden eagles (Aquila chrysaetos)
- eagle owls (Bubo bubo)
Life History and Behavior
Goats and ibexes are considered relatively non-vocal, but they have evolved a complex system of visual signals for aggression. Courtship displays are the most intensively studied component of communication in caprines, and are largely similar across all members of this groups. Males will display to other males with their horns, body movements, tongue or lips. They will also display to females. Females often bleat during estrus, and males may make several clicking, nasal sounds, or bleats. The rump patch is shown when animals are indicating submissiveness.
During the rut, males will attempt to gain access to females by sniffing them, licking their anal areas, or nuzzling. If a female urinates, the male will then sniff her carefully, often curling his upper lip, which is a posture known as flehmen that further opens his olfactory senses. Non-receptive females will refrain from urinating, and simply continue grazing or occasionally run away.
Horns are used for fighting, specifically for ramming rather than puncturing. Typically two males will spar, clashing their horns together to establish dominance. Occasionally females will also use their horns for aggression towards upstart young males or other females. Sparring between individuals seldom results in serious damage or bodily injury.
Communication Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic ; chemical
Other Communication Modes: pheromones ; scent marks
Perception Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic ; chemical
The oldest known individual of Capra nubiana lived 17 years in captivity. It is thought, however, that wild animals have much shorter life spans. Capra ibex, a related species, has been reported to live 10 to 16 years in the wild.
Status: captivity: 17 (high) years.
Status: captivity: 18.9 years.
Lifespan, longevity, and ageing
During most of the year females and their young, as well as males under three years old remain in isolated herds of ten to twenty individuals. Adult males congregate in bachelor groups, displaying a marked system of dominance hierarchy. Males and females come together for the rutting season around October. The rutting season may continue into December. The mating system is polygynous, with only a few males siring many of the young.
Throughout most of the year older males are solitary. They join females during the rut and try to drive off other males. Males will follow individual females and try to disrupt female herds. During the rut courting males seldom feed and expend much energy fighting or mating, resulting in severe deterioration of their physical condition. Both sexes exhibit crouching behaviors, tongue-flicking, and scent marking on the tail, beard and chest as part of their reproductive behavior. Reproductive success of male goats is directly correlated with body strength and horn size. Males often engage in forceful fights, whereby they crash against one another with their horns and try to overpower their opponents. Nubian ibex will erect the long dark hairs of the back while fighting. Females typically mate two or three times during estrous, which typically lasts 24 hours. Males will often become excited during the rutting season, and spontaneous ejaculation has been reported, as well as masturbation via taking the penis tip in their mouths.
Mating System: polygynous
Gestation lasts 150 to 165 days, after which the young (usually one, but occasionally two) are born between May and June. Females reach sexual maturity at two years, and males at age three to six. For the first several days of their life, the kids are in hiding before joining their mother.
Breeding interval: Nubian ibex breed once a year during the rutting season.
Breeding season: The breeding season is from October to December.
Range number of offspring: 1 to 2.
Average number of offspring: 1.
Range gestation period: 5 to 5.5 months.
Average weaning age: 3 months.
Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female): 2 years.
Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male): 3 to 6 years.
Key Reproductive Features: iteroparous ; seasonal breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual ; viviparous
Nubian ibex exhibit a high degree of parental investment in their offspring. Time to weaning averages two months. Over this period the females nurse their young daily and gradually teach them to forage independently and establish their position in the social hierarchy. Female ibex will only nurse their own offspring and are hostile to alien kids or females. This is presumably a result of the high reproductive effort that mothers invest in their offspring.
Most species of ungulates in mountainous regions depend on steep terrain to avoid predation. A grouping pattern unique to Nubian ibex among all other caprines has been observed in herds in the Avedat Canyon in Israel. Females leave their kids unattended in nursery groups in a steep-walled canyon with many other kids. The nursery is most likely an accidental trap that the kids have fallen into and cannot surmount the cliff walls to climb out. Mothers visit the nursery often to feed the kids, which stay in the nursery until they are mature enough to follow along on the steep cliffs.
Parental Investment: precocial ; pre-fertilization (Provisioning, Protecting: Female); pre-hatching/birth (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Female); pre-weaning/fledging (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Female)
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Barcode data: Capra nubiana
No available public DNA sequences.
Download FASTA File
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Capra nubiana
Public Records: 1
Specimens with Barcodes: 1
Species With Barcodes: 1
Capra nubiana is listed as an endangered species with an EN C2a classification on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. EN means endangered, and C2a means that the the population estimate is less than 2,500 mature individuals, with no subpopulations greater then 250 mature individuals and an overall declining population trend. Nubian ibex are not listed by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) or the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). Nubian ibex are protected in Israel, Jordan, and Oman. The population is thought to be at carrying capacity in Israel, but otherwise critically endangered in other areas. Threats to C. nubiana include habitat loss (via agriculture, livestock, and infrastructure development), hunting, pollution, and competition with non-native species. Protecting corridors which connect populations is particularly important for preventing population bottlenecks in this species.
US Federal List: no special status
CITES: no special status
State of Michigan List: no special status
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: vulnerable
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
- 1994Indeterminate(Groombridge 1994)
Status in Egypt
On the Sinai Peninsula, between 1977 and 1979, the population in the north has been estimated at around 50 animals, in the central region around 200, and in the south 155 (Baharav and Meiboom 1981). There are no reliable estimates of overall population size in Egypt, but they are thought to be stable; about 200 Ibex inhabit the El Galala El Baharia Plateau (M. Saleh, in Alkon in press). There are no estimates available for Eritrea, Ethiopia or Sudan.
In Israel, comprehensive, one-day ground surveys (supplemented by sporadic aerial counts) have been conducted annually each autumn within all major ibex ranges since 1981 by the Nature Reserves Authority. Total counts were relatively stable during 1982 to 1987, with a mean total count of 1,064 + 147 during this period, and a mean adult female-kid ratio of 2.2:1. Count data suggest that ibex are at carrying capacity in their major ranges. Given that the survey probably underestimates actual numbers, the total estimated number of Nubian Ibex in Israel is about 1,500, of which 800 are in the Judean desert, 500 in the Negev, and 150 in the Elat mountains. Recent counts indicate a decline in all three subpopulations (D. Saltz pers. comm.). No informed estimate is available for the size of the re-introduced Golan Heights population in Israeli-occupied Syria (Alkon 1997).
In Jordan, a captive breeding program was started in 1989 to augment a small relict population in danger of extirpation (L. Harding pers. comm.). Captive-bred animals were released into the Wadi Mujib Nature Reserve beginning in 1998, and the programme was terminated in 2006 when the wild population was estimated at approximately 200 (L. Harding pers. comm.). They are now believed to be stable in numbers (Maher Abu Jafar pers. comm.). A second population further south, centered on the Dana Nature Reserve, has been increasing any may be larger than the Wadi Mujib population, although no estimates of numbers are available (L. Harding pers. comm.). The former population in the Rum mountains has not been confirmed in recent years (L. Harding pers. comm.).
In Oman, no data are available on the size, demographic status or trends of the total Nubian Ibex population. Ibex distributions and numbers are most likely determined to a large extent by the temporal and spatial rainfall pattern, particularly in the most arid areas. However, surveys have been completed only in the Huquf escarpment area, where numbers appear to have been stable over the last five years. In the coastal hills to the south of this population, the status of ibex is unknown (but see Sale, 1980). Generally, densities are likely to be similar to the Huquf escarpment where there are estimated to be one ibex/km² (Daly et al. 1997).
In Saudi Arabia, there are no population estimates, but overall, numbers are believed to be decreasing in areas where ibex are not protected. In contrast, ibex numbers are believed to be increasing in the two protected areas where recruitment is satisfactory and females appear to give birth to twins frequently (Habibi and Tatwany 1997). In the Hawtat bani Tamim Ibex Reserve, the most recent census (Spring 2007) recorded 400 individuals (I. Nader pers. comm.).
There are no estimates for Yemen (Shackleton 1997).
The Nubian Ibex is extinct in Syria, and in Lebanon due to large scale habitat destruction and abuse of hunting regulations (Serhal 1997a,b).
Hunting is a threat to the species throughout its range. Poaching definitely occurs in Egypt (Amer 1997) and in Sudan (Nimir 1997), and is implicated in the disappearance of this species from some parts of its range in Egypt (Manlius 2001). Poaching also occurs in Jordan, although this threat has decreased recently (Hays and Bandak 1997). In Saudi Arabia, a general ban on hunting ibex was promulgated in 1979; however, it is difficult to control poaching, especially in remote areas (Habibi and Tatwany 1997). The species is effectively protected from hunting in Israel (Alkon 1997). In Yemen, automatic weapons are owned by many people throughout the country and hunting is probably the greatest threat to the ibex (Shackleton 1997).
Habitat loss and degradation threatens the species in much of its range. In Saudi Arabia, Nubian Ibex continue to be threatened by habitat degradation, particularly through the extension of roads, livestock encroachment and other development pressures in and around its remaining refuges (Habibi and Tatwany 1997). Bedouin access to isolated regions where ibex occur means that the habitat and water resources of otherwise secure populations are threatened.
Some predation by leopards (Panthera pardus) has been reported in Israel, and reproductive success and juvenile survival vary from year to year, probably depending largely on the nutritional status of adult females. No significant effects of parasites or diseases have been detected among wild populations (Alkon 1997). In Jordan, the small size of remaining ibex populations and their isolation from each other is also a cause for concern (Hays and Bandak 1997). In Saudi Arabia, continued displacement and isolation of ibex populations will further limit opportunities for dispersal and genetic interchange between scattered populations (Habibi and Tatwany 1997).
The Nubian Ibex is protected by Agricultural Law No. 53/l 966 and amendment 1012 July 1992. Hunting of this species is totally forbidden, as mentioned in article 117 of the Agricultural Law. Nubian Ibex occur in several protected areas in Egypt: Gebel Elba Conservation Area; Assiut University Protected Area, where it was rediscovered in 1984 (Krausman and Shaw 1986); and in Jabal (Gebel) Musa and Jabal Katrina Wildlife Reserve in southern Central Sinai. The Gebel Elba Conservation Area falls into the disputed Sudan Government Area in the extreme south-east corner of Egypt, along the border with Sudan. With both Egypt and Sudan claiming the area, any legislation requires the agreement of both parties for it to be realized. Hunting, although banned in the protected area, does take place in at least one part of this area, because neither government claims authority over this section (Amer 1997).
Amer (1997) proposed a number of conservation measures, including: considering government control for Assiut University Protected Area to ensure full protection because it is one of the few remaining areas where Nubian Ibex definitely still survive outside the Sinai and Egypt has full control (the site is in the Eastern desert and includes the Wadi El Assiuti and its junction with the Wadi Habib; reactivating the proposal to make Gebel Elba a National Park in co-operation with the Egyptian and Sudanese governments.
Between 1980 and 1985, 10 to 44 hunting licenses were issued annually for hunters to kill Nubian Ibex in the Red Sea region. Licenses continued to be issued until 1989, despite a three-year hunting ban introduced in 1988. Due to prior commitments with foreign hunters, hunting Nubian Ibex was exempted from the ban in 1989. Neither the number of licenses issued, nor the areas open for hunting, were based on any scientific surveys to determine if hunting could be sustained by the populations. Poaching is also practiced by nomads who hunt with dogs and traditional weapons. According to the Wildlife Laws, both sheep and ibex can be hunted with an ordinary hunting license. Since January 1992, Nubian Ibex are included as a Schedule II species under the Wildlife Conservation Act; however, this allows the species to be legally hunted with a special hunting permit (Nimir 1997). Nubian Ibex occur in three protected areas along the Red Sea coast: in the Erkawit and Sinkat Sanctuaries, and in the Tokar Game Reserve. As in Egypt, the Gebel Elba Conservation Area is an important site for the conservation of this species, but falls into the disputed Sudan Government Administration Area along the border between the extreme south-east corner of Egypt and the north-east part of the Sudan. Sudan and Egypt are currently negotiating the future of this area, and settlement of this dispute will be required before any form of legislation is realized (Nimir 1997).
Nimir (1997) proposed the following conservation measurees: 1) Increasing protection to effective levels, especially in the protected areas; 2) Placing the species in Schedule I to ensure its full legal protection; and 3) carrying out the Sudan Government’s proposed population estimate and ecological studies, so that a comprehensive conservation management plan for Nubian Ibex can be developed.
The Yob Reserve was legally established under the Italian post-World War II administration in 1959 (Gazetta Eritrea No. 4, p. 3 1,16 March 1959), primarily for the conservation of Nubian Ibex (where the species is believed to have occurred) and other desert wildlife species. However, no formal development occurred, and little is known of this area since that time. Nubian Ibex were never recorded in either of the other two protected areas established in Eritrea in 1959: the Nakfa and Gash-Setit Wildlife Reserves (Hillman and Yohannes 1997).
Conservation measures proposed (Hillman and Yohannes 1997) include: 1) carrying out detailed surveys for Nubian ibex in northern Eritrea from the ground and from the air as soon as resources are available; and 2) based on these data, develop a conservation strategy for the species.
The Israel Nature Reserve Authority designates the species as “vulnerable” within their principal arid-zone range, and as “rare” in Mediterranean parts of the country (i.e., Golan Heights). In Israel, it is fully protected and the law is effectively enforced. At least 80% of ibex range is within 15 officially or designated protected areas, most of which are administered by the Nature Reserves Authority. Designated Nature Reserves await formal establishment, but are effectively managed as Nature Reserves. Most established Nature Reserves had tenures of various durations as “designated” reserves prior to their final establishment. Recent and current management involves annual, autumn 1-day ground surveys of ibex in all major ranges (except Golan), protection of populations and habitats, and encouraging research. A management plan has been developed for Avdat Canyon National Park which supports a large population of ibex in the northern Negev highlands (Ayal 1992). Artificial food patches have been maintained at the En Gedi Nature Reserve in the Judean desert, but are subject to increasing conflicts with agriculture for irrigation water (Alkon 1997)
Conservation measures proposed (Alkon 1997) include: 1) Develop formal management programs or conservation biology plans for ibex. Up to the present, conservation measures have emphasized the protection of ibex populations and their habitats, and monitoring the species’ status. It is recommended that these include considerations of population dynamics, population genetics, habitat requirements and human disturbance. This would involve development and implementation of a more active management/conservation program that would include specific goals and objectives, accurate monitoring of the numerical and genetic statuses and dynamics of ibex populations, management of water resources and other key habitat components (e.g. nutritional ecology and habitat requirements; population dynamics and genetics; effects of human disturbances on ibex behavior and habitat quality). 2) Consider augmenting natural water sources for ibex habitat improvement. Nubian ibex are highly dependent on water, and the lush vegetation around desert springs and other water sources may be important food sources. Present ibex ranges are centered around permanent water sources, and their protection and quality should be a paramount management objective. Conflicts of water allocation between wildlife needs and agricultural uses have arisen in the En Gedi Nature Reserve in the Judean desert. 3) Initiate a study of the dynamics of the large populations in the Judean desert (~800 animals) and the Negev highlands (~400 animals) that presently appear secure but which are poorly understood. Preliminary analyses indicate that recent annual fluctuations are around 30% density dependent and 70% related to stochastic environmental variation. Due to the small size of the populations, the Eilat mountains and Golan populations may be especially vulnerable to extirpation, but nothing is known of their demography. One study (Alkon and Kohlmann 1990) commissioned by the Nature Reserves Authority indicates that the current annual ibex surveys may be deficient in accurately estimating densities and structure of ibex populations, and recommends that alternative monitoring methods be considered. 4) Launch a research program on the genetic diversity among populations. This will be essential for planning appropriate population management programs. The Sede Boqer segment of the Negev highlands population contains substantial genetic diversity (Stiiwe et al. 1992), but nothing is known of the genetics of other populations, or the extent of gene transfer among populations. Present data indicate some movement and possible interchange among elements of the Judean desert and Negev highlands populations, but the Golan and Elat mountains populations are probably genetically isolated. 5) Evaluate the effects of visitors on ibex ecology. Tourism and nature study are intense at several nature reserves and parks in the Judean desert and Negev highlands which are important for ibex. Studies of other wild animals and of Nubian ibex in the Negev highlands (Hakham 1985; Stone 1989) suggest that park visitors may disrupt ibex behavior and movement patterns, and exclude ibex from desired sites. The biological and management consequences of human-ibex interactions are complex. On one hand, Nubian ibex appear to have adapted well to some human activities, and their presence has enhanced the value of the parks and reserves for human visitors, thus promoting public awareness and support of natural values. Conversely, the threshold levels at which human disturbance may adversely impact habitat carrying capacity are unknown, and are likely to vary seasonally, temporally, by location, and with the type of human activity.
Until 1978, the ibex was legally hunted in Jordan, but since then it has received full protection and a total ban on hunting this species was put into effect indefinitely. Ibex occur in three protected areas: Wadi Mujib Wildlife Reserve (212 km²), which includes the escarpment area of the Rift valley desert and extends as far as the Dead sea to 400 m below sea level; Dana Wildlife Reserve protecting 150 km² in the Rift valley mountains; and Wadi Rum Reserve extending over 570 km² of the precipitous rocky outcrops of the Rum mountains in southern Jordan (though the continued presence of the species in this area needs confirmation). It is also present in the proposed Jebel Masadi Wildlife Reserve, which covers 460 km² from the mountainous plateau and escarpment, down to the Rift valley desert (Hays and Bandak 1997).
The San Diego Wild Animal Park sent 22 young ibex to Jordan in July 1989, to which was added a locally captured juvenile. These animals were housed in a 0.25-0.4 km² enclosure on the slopes of Wadi Mujib. They reproduced well and by 1992, there were 34 individuals, increasing to 68 adults in 1995, when 24 births raised the total captive population to 90. The RSCN began releasing surplus animals into the wild in 1998 and continued until 2006 when the program was terminated becaused the wild population in Wadi Mujib Nature Reserve was judged stable at about 200 animals (L. Harding pers. comm.).
Conservation measures proposed (Hays and Bandak 1997): 1) Maintain the current strict measures of hunting control to ensure the survival of the species in Jordan. 2) Conduct field studies to assess the status of existing populations and to determine factors controlling their demography. 3) Census the population in Wadi Mujib Wildlife Reserve, annually, or preferably seasonally, to evaluate the results of the supplemental release into the Reserve. If Jordan’s wildlife reserves are to effectively protect the remaining ibex populations, the support of local people is essential and their community grazing rights must be adequately addressed. To these ends, it would be desirable to initiate a study to determine sustainable levels of domestic livestock grazing within potential ibex habitat. Furthermore, there is an urgent need for trained personnel, together with continued support from international conservation organizations and donor agencies.
In Lebanon, where the species is now extinct, a re-introduction programme has been proposed. The Ministry of State for the Environment is establishing a system of protected areas in which to place the offspring from captive breeding units. These areas include Mashgara National Park (3,500 ha) to be in the western Beqaa Valley, and the Barouk multiple use area in central Lebanon. Both these areas are very suitable for Caprinae re-introductions, but both species should not be released into the same reserve to avoid possible interbreeding. However, none of these proposals will be feasible until the armed political unrest ceases or declines significantly (Serhal 1997).
Fully protected by law (Ministry of Diwan Affairs, Ministerial Decision No. 4 1976) throughout the country, but the actual level of protection varies somewhat, in part due to the rugged and isolated terrain, and also to local conditions. Nubian Ibex occur in no guarded areas, but in central Oman, notably on the Huquf escarpment, ibex are protected by the guards of the Arabian Oryx Re-introduction Project based at Yalooni in the Governorate of the Central Region. Around the Huqf escarpment, the local Harasis tribes are more amenable to conservation and poaching is minimal. In the Governorate of Dhofar, there is no active enforcement system of the law protecting the ibex, although local individuals make voluntary reports of poaching activities from time to time, some of which are followed up by the local authorities. Both the Huquf escarpment and the main portions of the Jabal Samhan (Dhofar mountains) were included in a 1987 proposal for a national system of Nature Conservation Areas (IUCN 1986). Research is currently being conducted in the central region on the Huquf escarpment and is planned to continue for several years (Daly et al. 1997).
Conservation measures proposed by Daly et al. (1997) include: 1) Determine numbers and distributions throughout the taxon’s range. The first priority area is the eastern range of the Dhofar mountains, the Jabal Samhan, where large concentrations of ibex, as well as conservation problems, have been reported (e.g., Sale 1980). A survey of this area should also include identification of conservation and research needs. Second, the Huquf escarpment study should be continued, focusing particularly on population dynamics, because this population is probably the easiest to study due to its proximity to the oryx project; 2) Surveys for ibex should also be conducted in the Hajr mountains in conjunction with work on Arabian tahr, to determine if it occurs in these northern ranges; 3) Initiate ecological studies throughout the ibex’s range to enable appropriate conservation plans to be developed for this species. These should also include a study of the level of competition between ibex and feral donkeys; 4) Give priority to the establishment of the six protected areas recommended in the 1986 IUCN proposal which would provide protection for ibex populations and their habitat. The proposed protected areas with ibex are: Central Region - Janabah Hills National Nature Reserve (290,000 ha), Janabah Coast National Scenic Reserve (69,000 ha) AZ Zahr National Scenic Reserve (225,000 ha); Southern Region - Arkad National Resource Reserve (264,000 ha) Jabal Samhan National Nature Reserve (346,000 ha) and Shuwaymiyah National Resource Reserve (60,000 ha).
Legally protected by a hunting by-law passed in 1979 which, along with gazelles, gives the species total protection. This law, however, can be difficult to enforce in some remote areas. In Saudi Arabia, it occurs in two official reserves; At Tubayq Reserve in the north, and the Ibex Reserve in Hawtat bani Tamim in the east-central region. Ibex also inhabit the Ahmadi tribal hema (Hemah Fiqrah) in the Western Mountain chain which may become an officially delineated reserve in the future (Habibi and Tatwany 1997).
Conservation measures proposed include (Habibi and Tatwany 1997): 1) Vigorously enforce the hunting ban and create legislation banning the movement of Bedouins and ‘hunters into protected areas, to halt the indiscriminate poaching of ibex; 2) Launch an education programme in the school system in an effort to inform the public about the merits of conservation, and of the role which wildlife plays in the stability of fragile ecosystems; 3) The current priority of NCWCD must be to establish contiguous protected areas in the mountain chain of western Saudi Arabia, which constitute the major habitats of Nubian ibex. In Syria, Legislative Decree No. 152 (1970) covers hunting regulations and the provision of hunting councils. In 1979, Legislative Decree No. 50 banned all hunting for a 5-year period. Whether this is still in effect is unknown.
Syria has no protected areas and hunting regulations are not enforced. It was believed that two areas, each about 20,000 ha, had been set aside one in 1968 the other in 1983, as areas for “le patrimoine animal” (Serhal 1997).
Nubian Ibex reportedly occur in proposed Jabal al-Ara’is Reserve, in Abin Province (Mahir Abu Ja’far 1984).
Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems
Nubian ibex are likely to compete with domesticated goats (Capra hircus) and camels (Camelus dromedarius) as well as other herd animals for food and habitat. Foraging ibex in Israel have been recorded damaging orchards and other crops.
Nubian ibex have been hunted for meat and trophies, and even used as an offering during the Dynastic period in Egypt. Hunting is now illegal in most of the countries in which C. nubiana occurs. However, poaching is still widespread and protected areas are poorly enforced. Nubian ibex have been extirpated in Syria and Lebanon due to over-hunting. Ziswiller 1967 (as cited by Osborn 1998) lists several folk uses from nearly every part of the ibex for humans. Folk uses include the blood for gall stone easement, the heel bone for diseases of the spleen, feces for anemia, the heart for strength, and stomach fluids for many healthful properties.
Positive Impacts: body parts are source of valuable material; ecotourism ; source of medicine or drug ; research and education
The Nubian ibex (Capra nubiana) is a desert-dwelling goat species found in mountainous areas of Algeria, Israel, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Egypt, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Yemen, and Sudan. It is generally considered to be a subspecies of the Alpine ibex (Capra ibex), but is sometimes considered specifically distinct (Capra nubiana). The wild population is estimated at 1,200 individuals.
Nubian ibexes stand around 65–75 cm (2.1-2.6 ft) tall at the shoulder and weigh around 50 kilograms (110 lb). Nubian ibexes are a light tan color, with a white underbelly, in males there is also a dark brown stripe down the back. Nubian ibexes have long thin horns which extend up and then backwards and down. In males these reach around a metre in length while in females they are much smaller (around 30 cm or 12 in).
Nubian ibexes live in rough dry mountainous terrain where they eat mainly grasses and leaves and are preyed upon by leopards, eagles and bearded vultures. Nubian ibexes live in herds composed solely of males or females. They are diurnal, meaning they are active during the day and rest during the night. On 16 March 1959, the British established the Yob Wildlife Reserve in northern Eritrea specifically to protect significant populations of Nubian ibex in the area.
In popular culture
The Biblical heroine Yael's name means "Ibex" in Hebrew. The Nubian ibex in particular was prominently featured in the popular television documentary series Planet Earth (episode 5, "Deserts") and also in the BBC Documentary Life.
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- Alkon, P.U., Harding, L., Jdeidi, T., Masseti, M., Nader, I., de Smet, K., Cuzin, F. & Saltz, D. (2008). Capra nubiana. In: IUCN 2008. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Retrieved 5 April 2009. Database entry includes a brief justification of why this species is of vulnerable.
- "Yob Wildlife Reserve". Protectedplanet.net. Retrieved 30 May 2012.
- Shackleton, David M. (1997). Wild Sheep and Goats and Their Relatives: Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan for Caprinae. International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources. Species Survival Commission. Caprinae Specialist Group. p. 26. ISBN 978-2-8317-0353-4. Retrieved 30 May 2012.
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