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Siberian Ibex - Capra sibirica
#1
Siberian Ibex - Capra sibirica

[Image: 1600px-Siberian_Ibex.jpg]

Scientific classification
Kingdom:  Animalia
Phylum:  Chordata
Class:  Mammalia
Order:  Artiodactyla
Family:  Bovidae
Subfamily:  Caprinae
Genus:  Capra
Species:  Capra sibirica  Pallas, 1776

The Siberian ibex (Capra sibirica) is a species of ibex that lives in central Asia. It has traditionally been treated as a subspecies of the Alpine Ibex, and whether it is specifically distinct from other ibex is still not entirely clear. It is the longest and heaviest member of the genus Capra, though its shoulder height is surpassed by the Markhor.

Appearance
Siberian ibexes are large and heavily built goats, although individual sizes vary greatly. Males are between 88 and 110 cm (35 and 43 in) in shoulder height, and weigh between 60 and 130 kg (130 and 290 lb). Females are noticeably smaller, with heights between 67 and 92 cm (26 and 36 in), and weights between 34 and 56 kg (75 and 123 lb). The nose is straight in profile, the neck short, and the back straight. The neck is also particularly thick and muscular in males, but much less so in females. Both sexes have beards, although the male's beard is more pronounced, and those of females are sometimes absent altogether. Both sexes also possess a large scent gland, about 3 cm (1.2 in) across, beneath the tail.

[Image: 1600px-Siberian_ibex_%28Capra_sibirica%29_04.jpg]

The female's horns are relatively small, and grey-brown in colour, measuring an average of 27 cm (11 in) long. Those of fully-grown males are black and typically measure about 115 cm (45 in), although in extreme cases they can grow to 148 cm (58 in). Both sexes have circular rings around their horns that represent annual growth, but males also have large transverse ridges along the front surface. The exact shape of the horns varies considerably between individuals.
The colouration is also variable, from dark brown to light tan, with some reddish individuals. There is usually a stripe of darker hair down the centre of the back and onto the tail, and some males have saddle-like patches on the back in the winter. The undersides are paler, and, in the winter, mature males becoming much darker with white patches. Females and infants are generally more bland in colour than the adult males, and do not always have the stripe down the back. Siberian ibexes typically moult between April and July, developing their paler summer coat, which continues to grow and become darker as the year progresses, reaching the full winter condition around December.

Subspecies
Though some recent authorities treat the species as monotypic, others have recognized four subspecies, based mainly on differences in total size, size of horns and colour of pelage:
  • C. s. sibirica - Sayan Mountains
  • C. s. alaiana - Alay Mountains
  • C. s. hagenbecki - western Mongolia
  • C. s. sakeen - Pamir Mountains, western Himalayas, and Afghanistan and Pakistan
Reproduction
The rut takes place from late October to early January. During the rut, the males spend considerable effort courting females, and they are often emaciated from lack of grazing by the time it ends. Courtship lasts for over 30 minutes, and consists of licking, ritualised postures, and flehmen if the female urinates. Males compete for dominance during the rut, rearing up on their hind legs and clashing their horns together.
Gestation lasts 170 to 180 days, and usually results in the birth of a single kid, although twins occur in up to 14% of births, and triplets are born on rare occasions. Newborn kids weigh about 3 kg (6.6 lb), and grow rapidly during their first year. The horns are visible after about three to four weeks. They begin to eat grass as little as eight days after birth, but do not do so regularly until they are about one month old, and are not fully weaned until six months.
Males are sexually mature at eighteen months, but do not reach their full adult size for nine years. Females first breed in their second year. Males typically live for ten years in the wild, and females for up to seventeen years. They have been reported to live for up to 22 years in captivity.

[Image: 1600px-Female_Siberian_ibex_%28Capra_sib...Kargil.jpg]

Behavior
Usually living at high elevations, sometimes at the vegetation line and well above the tree line, Siberian ibexes seek out lower slopes during the winter in search of food. They have also been known to seek out tree lines on hot days, but they do not enter forested areas, preferring to return to their alpine habitat when the weather has cooled. When snow is heavy, they have to paw away snow to reach the vegetation below.

Their diet primarily consists of alpine grasses and herbs. During spring and summer, grasses and sedges form the bulk of their diet, while during winter they eat more tall herbs, and the twigs and needles of trees such as aspen, spruce, juniper, and willow. During the summer, they often visit salt licks. Herds vary in size depending on the local population; about 5-30 is most common, although they can become much larger during the rut. Outside of the rut, most herds are single-sex, although some mixed-sex herds persist throughout the year. Herds spend much of the day grazing, spending an hour or more at each location before moving on.

The main predators of Siberian ibex are Wolves, Dholes, Snow Leopards, and Brown Bears; young ibex may also fall prey to Lynxes, Foxes, and eagles.

[Image: 1600px-Siberian_ibex_%28Capra_sibirica%2...281%29.jpg]

Habitat and distribution
Siberian ibexes live mostly above the tree line, in areas of steep slopes and rocky scree. Their habitat consists of a mixture of high altitude tundra, alpine meadows, and regions of semidesert. In the Gobi Desert, they may be found on hills as low as 700 m (2,300 ft), but they are more commonly found between about 2,000 and 5,000 metres (6,600 and 16,400 ft) in summer, descending to lower, sometimes sparsely forested, slopes during the winter.

Most Siberian ibexes are seen in central and northern Asia, Afghanistan, western and northern China (Primarily Xinjiang), north-western India, south-eastern Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, eastern Uzbekistan, Mongolia, northern Pakistan, and south-central Russia.



Team reports sighting rare wild goat species in Afghanistan

September 14, 2018 by Janet Lathrop, University of Massachusetts Amherst

[Image: 10-umassamherst.jpg]
Zalmai Moheb, an ecologist with the Wildlife Conservation Society's Afghanistan Program and a doctoral candidate at UMass Amherst,, with others, report for the first time documenting by direct observation the presence of the markhor and one other rare Asian wild goat species in the country. Credit: UMass Amherst/Zalmai Moheb

Based on field surveys in northern Afghanistan, Zalmai Moheb, an ecologist with the Wildlife Conservation Society's Afghanistan Program and a doctoral candidate in environmental conservation at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, with others, report this week that they have for the first time documented by direct observation the presence of two rare Asian wild goat species in the country.

The species, both of concern to conservationists, are the markhor (Capra falconeri) or screw-horned goat, and the Siberian ibex (Capra sibirica), which occur in several countries. Both have been reported in Afghanistan, but few studies have been made there in recent years and their distribution is largely unknown, Moheb points out.

The report of field surveys he and colleagues conducted from July to October 2011 has just been published in the annual newsletter of the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Caprinae Specialist Group.

Moheb and colleagues report that they directly observed markhor and ibex on the Afghan side of the Amu Darva River, the border with Tajikistan, for the first time in the Shahr-e Buzurg district and the Darwaz region, plus indirect field evidence and local community reports.

They say, "The strip of land along the Amu Darya River from western Darwaz to Shahr-e Buzurg district through Khawahan and Raghistan districts should be a priority site for future markhor and ibex conservation in Afghanistan. If protection measures are taken, this area along with the adjacent protected area in Tajikistan, could act as valuable and viable refuge for sustaining markhor and other wild species that inhabit the region."

Moheb and co-authors Said Naqibullah Mostafawi and Peter Zahler, with the Wildlife Conservation Society at the time of the survey, plus his advisor at UMass Amherst professor Todd Fuller, point out that the animals are "nominally protected" from hunting, but both species are most likely hunted throughout their range by local tribesmen. Zahler is now vice president of conservation initiatives at Woodland Park Zoo, Washington, D.C. and Mostafawi is now a free-lance consultant.

For this work, the research ecologists surveyed a strip of shrubby scrubland along the Amu Darya River in four districts of Afghanistan's northern Badakhshan Province. They visited 46 villages and four field sites, most in valleys, over 115 square miles (300 sq. km) in Shahr-e Buzurg and 770 square miles (1,997 sq. km) in the Darwaz region. They also interviewed and showed photographs to village headmen, hunters and shepherds believed to be the most knowledgeable about local wildlife.

They also visited potential markhor and ibex habitats suggested by sources using experienced local hunters as field guides to confirm animals in the area. In Shahr-e Buzurg the ecologists report 41 of 67 respondents, 61 percent, said that markhor were present and once abundant, but numbers have declined and few remain. The researchers themselves saw four markhor in the Payan-e Moor area and local hunters said they thought about 20 markhor were in the area. They also found horns and markhor skins.

In the Darwaz region, the researchers report that 37 percent, 15 of 40 respondents said markhor existed in the western part of the district, and the researchers themselves saw six animals and four pairs of markhor horns. Further, 56 percent of respondents, 74 or 131, said that ibex occurs in some parts of the region and showed them skin and horns.

Overall, the ecologists say markhor populations in Shahr-e Buzurg are believed to be small and may only survive due to animals coming in from Tajikistan. Markhor populations in Leiwgard in the Kof Ab district of Darwas appear "larger and more stable," though still linked to nearby Tajik populations.

"We suspect that when water level drops in the river during winter, markhor could move between both areas," the authors note. "The remoteness of Leiwgard is likely the primary reason that markhor and ibex still exist in this area." Leiwgard is home to roughly 80 markhor, sources said, along with ibex, brown bear and snow leopards.

Local sources also reported that markhor and ibex share the same area, but markhor prefer lower elevations and steep cliffs, while ibex like higher elevations with colder environments. "This, if true, is one of the very few areas where these two caprid species overlap," the researchers note.

Moheb and colleagues urge taking several conservation management actions to assist markhor and biodiversity in the area, in particular along the Amu Darya River. "This area is a priority for future markhor conservation and for other endangered wildlife such as snow leopard. The area has the advantage of being connected to the M-Sayod Conservancy on the Tajik side of the border, and so efforts could be combined between Afghanistan and Tajikistan to promote conservation in the larger area," they point out. Coordinating conservation efforts could preserve unique habitats and endangered wildlife, they add.

Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2018-09-team-sight...t.html#jCp
[Image: wildcat10-CougarHuntingDeer.jpg]
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