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The Extinction of Pyrenean Ibex

Pyrenean Ibex were wild goats that lived in the mountain areas of Europe, north-central Asia, and northern Africa. According to the Integrated Taxonomic Information System, there are five species of Ibex (Bradford, 2014). These species were one of the two subspecies of Spanish Ibex that went extinct. The scientific name of Pyrenean Ibex is Capra pyrenaica pyrenaica. Male and female Ibex could be told apart by their fur color and horn differences. Males were greyish brown with black spots on the forelegs in summer and they were dull grey with faded spots in winter. On the other hand, female Ibex had brown fur color. The Pyrenean Ibex had fur that grew longer and thicker in colder winter months. During the summer, it was shorter and less thick.

The male Ibex had huge, thick horns, bending outward and backward. The females had short, circular horns. Horns were very important for the Ibex because they used it for sexual selection and territorial defense. Ibex was about 1 to 5.5 feet from their hooves to the withers (Bradford, 2014). They weighed about 65 to 265 lbs. Ibex were related to antelopes, buffalo, bison, bison, cattle, goats, and sheep.

Ibex had a decent population in the Iberian Peninsula. They were most commonly found in the Cantabrian Mountains located in Spain, the Pyrenees Mountains, and in southern France (Bove, 2017). They lived on rocky mountainsides and cliffs, and were known to be very fast and could jump more than 6 feet straight without a running start. This would let them climb mountains effortlessly. Their habitats were also known as Boreal Biomes. The Pyrenean Ibex were herbivores, and their meals included shrubs, bushes, and grasses. Since there is vegetation available, the species live there with ease. With the fear of predators being around, the Ibex made their houses on cliffs to be safe. The Pyrenean Ibex were most commonly eaten by wolves, foxes, snow leopards, lynx, and bears. They lived in groups called herds and the herds were segregated by gender. The males had a separate herd called the bachelor herd, while the female and offspring had separate herd and it consisted of 10 to 20 members (Bradford, 2014). They would only meet during the breeding season. The male Ibex used scent to communicate with their mate during breeding season. The reproducing season for Ibex is known as a rut.

Pyrenean Ibex have been hunted by the humans for thousands of years. People hunted them for their meat to eat and their fur to use as clothing. Humans started taming wild goats about 8,000 years ago in southwest Asia and the Middle East. Ibex also have been hunted for trophies and medicinal purposes. Researchers don’t know precisely why the Pyrenean Ibex went extinct, yet they hypothesize they were terminated because of hunting, disease, overpopulation, and loss of food and habitat (Bove, 2017). These factors caused the species to go from 50,000 animals to less than 100 by the 20th century. In the year 2000, Scientists were able to collect skin cells from a last naturally born Pyrenean Ibex. Her name was Celia and she was 13 years old when she died from being trapped under a fallen tree. They collected the skin cells from the ear of the Ibex so they could clone the animal (Connor, 2009).

In 2009, they cloned the Ibex but it only survived for 7 minutes because of lung problem. All over, the Pyrenean Ibex were wild goats that lived in mountainous areas. Their diet consists of vegetation like shrubs and grass. The reason they went extinct is still unknown, but scientists believe they went extinct because of hunting, disease, and loss of food. The scientists got cells from last living Ibex in hope to clone it. They did try once but failed at it. Finally, they were declared extinct in 2000.

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