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Saturday, February 16, 2013

Did You Know? - Nubian Ibex

Nubian Ibex in Ein Gedi
(Photo - Aliza Orent)
The Nubian Ibex - Capra nubiana - is not a gazelle but a wild goat. They are a protected species in Israel and appear on the logo of the Israel National Parks Authority.

Protection Authority's Logo

They are well suited for the hot, dry desert landscape. Their light sandy brown coat provides a camouflage against the desert scenery. The smooth, shiny coat is thought to reflect a large amount of incoming solar radiation which allows the animals to remain active throughout the day even during hot summer afternoons. Males have a dark stripe on their front legs and one down their back, as well as a dark beard.   

Both males and females have horns although they are much larger in males than females. Horns on bucks can grow up to 120 cm / 48 inches long.  The much thinner, shorter horns of females grow up to 35 cm / 14 inches.

Mating occurs during the late summer months, especially October. The majority of kids are born in March. Ibex can live up to 17 years and are often seen wandering around in herds.
In contrast to most desert animals, the Nubian ibex drinks almost daily.    During summer nights, the Nubian ibex rests in high, open areas of slopes, allowing a variety of escape routes should danger present itself. During the cooler winter nights, herds rest in more sheltered places, like caves or under overhangs. Nubian ibex, although equipped with a semi-waterproof coat, do not like to get wet, seeking shelter if possible during rain storms.

If you want to see an ibex up close go to the Ein Gedi Nature Reserve or nearby guesthouse. They can also be found wandering close to the ancient synagogue at Ein Gedi and around the Ein Gedi Field School. Further south they can be seen at Ein Avdat and Mitzpe Ramon near to the crater.

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