The Alpine Ibex is a species of mammal in the Bovidae family, the order Artiodactyla. This species was described by Linnaeus in 1758, commonly found in the Alps. They use hooves like pincers and their impressive agility to climb even the steepest cliffs, so this goat species avoids most predators. But it is their ability to climb even vertical walls that make the ibex goats famous worldwide.
The Cingino Dam, located in the Piedmont region of Italy, is one of the many dams built in Europe, but it has become a tourist attraction in the past few years, after photographs of ibex species climbed onto the children. Vertical dams are spread over the net. From the pictures it can be seen that this animal moves on the dam with great skill and difficulty, so it is not surprising that millions of people around the world are fascinated by the sight.
Somehow the ibex goats can grip any rock protruding from the dam, which also allows them to freely move on the 50 meter high wall and access the minerals they adore. craving – salt.
The rock dam wall is a valuable source of salt and minerals. Rock dam is built of concrete, releasing calcium-aluminum minerals (called ettringite). About 20% of hard concrete contains ettringite, an important source of mineral salts for them.
The diet of herbivores such as the Ibex goats is salt deficient, and in order for their bodies to function properly, they need a certain amount of salt from nature. Without it, their bones are not strong enough, their nervous systems and muscles do not function properly, so they cannot survive without salt. In the spring, these animals often lick roads that have been treated with anti-freeze salts, or chew dirt to find salt. But getting this essential salt is not always easy.
The Ibex goat can exploit this resource. As excellent climbers, the Ibex goat will climb up the vertical faces of the walls (embankment of roads, embankments of irrigation dams …), cling to small protruding rocks for foothold and food. salt.
A valuable source of salt that only ibex goats can access is found on the dam walls like Cingino’s. Ettringite, also known as Candlot salt, is a calcium alumi no-sulfate formed during hydration.
Portland cement. And that is a nutrient that is especially valuable for this goat, because it contains calcium and mineral components that help this goat to function properly.
Pictures of the goats perched on vertical dam walls have been circulating online for many years now, and while most of them were taken at Cingino Dam, in Piedmont, such behavior has been observed. In most other dams in Italy, such as Barbellino, the 65-meter-high dam in Lombardy, or the Lago della Rossa Dam, a 31-meter-high structure in Piedmont.
They show no fear in front of the steep wall, and even try to squeeze each other to find a good location. The special foot structure prevents Ibex from falling off cliffs or steep walls.
Interestingly, while the species is praised for its superior salt-climbing ability, not all individuals of this species are able to climb dams. Larger males are often unable to engage in this type of behavior, possibly due to their large body mass (up to 100 kg) and large horns making it harder for them to balance, meanwhile, females of they are often found on dams.
In Spring and Summer, Alpine Ibex goats live in grassy or coniferous areas. Before the harsh winter hits, they must take advantage of the fat accumulation and hide in the Alps to avoid the cold. Like many other herbivores, these goats lack the necessary salt and minerals because they are not present in everyday plants. The higher their salt requirement, forcing them to find themselves.
In the 19th century, due to over-hunting for meat and their horns for healing, the Alpine Ibex goat declined rapidly, to only about 100 individuals in the western Alps. Fortunately, thanks to conservation efforts and the establishment of the Gran Paradiso National Park, the goat species returned to the region, reproducing and thriving. Up to now, there are about 50,000 individuals in the Alps.
The split hooves and rubber-like foot pads help the ibex Alpine goat easily climb onto the nearly vertical cliff surface in search of mineral salts. They have excellent balancing abilities, often living in very steep terrain even up to 4,600 meters in height without fear of falling. The reason this species of goats lives at such a height is to hide and protect themselves from dangerous predators.
Walking on high dams is not simply a matter of goats demonstrating their abilities. The goats are practically foraging, they are licking the rocks on the dam face …