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Range DescriptionThis species inhabits the mountain ranges of central and northeastern Afghanistan, China (northwestern tip of Gansu, west Inner Mongolia, Xinjiang, possibly Tibet on its border with Xinjiang, Schaller 1998), north India (Himalayas of Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh), eastern Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia (Altai, Gobi-Altai, Khangai, and Sayan Mountains, as well as isolated mountains and rocky outcrops in the southeast), northeastern Uzbekistan (west Tian Shan), northern Pakistan, Russia (southern Siberia, southern Tuva, and the Altai Mountains), and Tajikistan (Shackleton 1997; Grubb, 2005). In Afghanistan, ibex were historically found in pockets of steep habitat throughout the Afghan Hindu Kush and its outlying ranges (e.g., Spinghar, Kohe Baba, Feroz Koh, Nuristan). It is currently found in suitable habitat throughout the Afghan Pamir and along the Panj River of north-eastern Badakhshan.
In China, Siberian ibex is found primarily in the mountains surrounding Xinjiang, but also in those of extreme northern Gansu, and Inner Mongolia. Populations are relatively widespread in western Xinjiang (Abudoukadi’er 2003) in the mountains around the Dzungarian basin including the mountains along the border with Kazakhstan from south of the Irtysh River, through the Kok Shaal Tau mountains along the border with Kyrgyzstan and into the Pamir along the border with Tajikistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan, and also throughout the Tian Shan ranges. Populations occur along the Sino-Mongolia border in the Baytik mountains (Xinjiang), in the Mazongshan area of northern Gansu, and as far east as the Daqinshan of central Inner Mongolia (Wang 1998). Slightly separated from these are populations in the Altai mountains in northern Xinjiang, along China’s borders with Mongolia, and Russia.
The Asiatic ibex has a widespread distribution in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and southern Siberia, where it occupies precipitous habitats in a range of environments from hot deserts, low mountains and foothills, to high mountain ridges. It is found throughout the Pamir, Tian Shan, Dzungarian Alatau, Altai, and Tuva Mountains, as well as the western and eastern Sayan.
In Mongolia, Siberian ibex are patchily distributed in rugged terrain throughout the western half of the country, and in central and south-central Mongolia to the trans-Siberian railway line (Ulaanbaatar to Choir, and to Sainshand) (Dulamtseren 1970, 1977, Mallon et al. 1997, Clark et al. 2006). More specifically, ibex inhabit the Altai, Hangai, and Gobi Altai Mountain Ranges (Bannikov 1954, Dulamtseren 1970, Sokolov and Orlov 1980, Mallon 1985, Schaller 1994, Mallon et al. 1997, Fedosenko and Blank 2001, Clark et al. 2006). They also occur in the Sayan Mountains near the Russian border west of Lake Hovsgol and in scattered populations in the small mountains in the Transaltai Gobi and in canyons, rocky outcrops, and other rugged terrain throughout the Gobi Desert (Bannikov 1954; Dash et al. 1977, Dulamtseren 1977, Reading et al. 1995, 1999a, 1999b, Mallon et al. 1997, Fedosenko and Blank 2001, Clark et al. 2006). A small introduced population survives in the Bogd Uul Mountains just outside of Ulaanbaatar (Mallon et al. 1997, Clark et al. 2006). The largest number of ibex occurs in the Altai and western Hangai Mountains. Populations continue to become increasing fragmented, especially in central and southeastern Mongolia (Schaller 1994, Clark et al. 2006). A long term research project on ibex ecology is being conducted in northern Ikh Nart Nature Reserve in northern Dornogobi Aimag (Reading et al. 2006a).
In India, the Asiatic ibex occurs in the Karakoram, Trans-Himalayan and Himalayan regions of Jammu and Kashmir, and in the Tran Himalayan and Himalayan regions of Himachal Pradesh, as far east as the Sutlej river (Fox, 1987; Fox et al., 1992; Gaston et al., 1981; Pandey, 1993). The species occurs in the western half of Ladakh, in the Shyok valley of northern Ladakh, along the Ladakh range to 45 km southeast of Leh, and along both sides of the main Himalayan range eastward to Shingo La pass (Fox et al., 1991a, 1992; Mallon, 1991). It is present along the southern side of the Himalaya in Jammu and Kashmir from the Zoji La pass eastwards to Himachal Pradesh, where it occurs throughout much of Lahul and Spiti, in the upper Beas and Parbati catchments, and east to the Sutlej river (Fox et al., 1992; Pandey, 1993; Bhatnagar 2003). According to Shackleton (1997), the Asiatic ibex is probably the most abundant Caprinae in Pakistan (Schaller, 1977). It is restricted to the relatively dry mountains of the inner Himalaya, Karakoram and Hindu Kush, between about 3,200 to greater than 5,000 m. It inhabits most of the higher mountain ranges of the Gilgit, Diamir and Baltistan Districts, and the northern part of the Chitral District. In Dir, Swat, Kohistan and Mansehra Districts, as well as in the northern part of Azad Jammu and Kashmir, it exists in the inner mountain range and inhabits the southern slopes of the main Himalayan chain (Roberts, 1977, Schaller, 1977, Qayyum, 1985). Outside this distribution area there is an unconfirmed report of a totally isolated population in the Safed Koh Mountains (Districts Kurram and Khyber of NWFP). If animals still exist there, it would represent the southernmost limit of the species’ global distribution (Roberts, 1977).