This relatively small goat species is easily recognized by the large ridged, backward-arching horns of the adult male. The Nubian ibex is the only ibex species that is adapted to hot, arid mountainous regions where it can be found on the highest and most remote cliffs. The Nubian ibex is very agile, moving down steep, rocky terrain to graze on grasses and leaves during the day, only to return to the cliffs at night.
As with many species, the Nubian ibex faces a number of threats. The ibex directly competes with animals such as feral camels and donkeys for food and increasingly rare water resources. However, habitat loss and degradation as well as hunting pressure are of greater concern.
Conservation in Action
A number of conservation initiatives have been launched for this species throughout its range different countries including: establishment of protected areas, a general ban on hunting, and establishment of a captive breeding center in Jordan initially stocked with animals from the San Diego zoo. However, poaching has been difficult to control and the various conservation efforts need to be coordinated, especially interconnecting the disparate populations to avoid inbreeding.
This species exists in zoos in low and dwindling numbers. The genetic diversity of the population is not being maintained, making it vulnerable to inbreeding depression. The ibex is most benefited by large, complex enclosures and large herds. Because of its substantial land space and scientific expertise, including innovative herd and genetic management, the Conservation Centers for Species Survival (C2S2) has the capacity to help quickly stabilize and reverse this species’ situation in North America. The Nubian ibex is one of the target species for the Source Population Alliance, a C2S2 program featuring a private/public sector alliance.