Pyrenean ibex
Capra pyrenaica pyrenaica

The Pyrenean ibex (Capra pyrenaica pyrenaica ), Aragonese and Spanish common name bucardo, Basque common name bukardo, Catalan common name herc and French common name bouquetin, was one of the four subspecies of the Iberian ibex or Iberian wild goat, a species endemic to the Pyrenees. Pyrenean ibex were most common in the Cantabrian Mountains, Southern France, and the northern Pyrenees. This species was common during the Holocene and Upper Pleistocene, during which their morphology, primarily some skulls, of the Pyrenean ibex was found to be larger than other Capra subspecies in southwestern Europe from the same time.

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In January 2000, the Pyrenean ibex became extinct. Other subspecies have survived: the western Spanish or Gredos ibex and the southeastern Spanish or beceite ibex, while the Portuguese ibex had already become extinct. Since the last of the Pyrenean ibex became extinct before scientists could adequately analyze them, the taxonomy of this particular subspecies is controversial.

Following several failed attempts to revive the subspecies through cloning, a living specimen was born in July 2003; however, she died several minutes after birth due to a lung defect.

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The species was often seen in parts of France, Portugal, Spain and Andorra, but not as much in northern areas of the Iberian Peninsula. In areas like Andorra and France in the mainland, the Pyrenean ibex became extinct first in the northern tip of the Iberian Peninsula. The Pyrenean ibex was estimated to have a peak population of 50,000 individuals with more than 50 other subgroups that ranged from the Sierra Nevada to Sierra Morena and Muela de Cortes. Many of these subgroups lived in mountainous terrain extending into Spain and Portugal. The last remaining Pyrenean ibex were seen in areas of the Middle and Eastern Pyrenees, below 1,200 metres (3,940 ft) altitude. However, in areas of southern France and surrounding areas, ibex were found from 350–925 metres (1,150–3,030 ft) to 1,190–2,240 metres (3,900–7,350 ft).

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The Pyrenean ibex was quite abundant until the 14th century and numbers did not dwindle in the region until the mid-19th century. Pyrenean ibex tended to live in rocky habitats with cliffs and trees interspersed with scrub or pine trees. However, small patches of rocks in farmland or various areas along the Iberian coast also formed suitable habitat. The ibex was able to thrive well in its environment as long as the appropriate habitat was available, and was able to disperse rapidly and colonize quickly. Pyrenean ibex formed a useful resource for humans, which may have been a cause of their eventual extinction. Researchers say that the eventual downfall of the Pyrenean ibex may have been caused by continuous hunting and even perhaps that the animal could not compete with the other livestock in the area. However, definite reasons for the extinction of this animal are still unknown.

The subspecies once ranged across the Pyrenees in France and Spain and the surrounding area, including the Basque Country, Navarre, north Aragon, and north Catalonia. A few hundred years ago, they were numerous, but by 1900, their numbers had fallen to fewer than 100. From 1910 onwards, their numbers never rose above 40, and the subspecies was found only in a small part of Ordesa National Park, in Huesca.

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Habits and Lifestyle

The Pyrenean ibex had short hair which varied according to seasons. During the summer, its hair was short, and in winter, the hair grew longer and thicker. The hair on the ibex's neck remained long through all seasons. Male and female ibex could be distinguished due to color, fur, and horn differences. The male was a faded grayish brown during the summer, and they were decorated with black in several places on the body such as the mane, forelegs, and forehead. In the winter, the ibex was less colorful. The male transformed from a greyish brown to a dull grey and where the spots were once black, he became dull and faded. The female ibex, though, could be mistaken for a deer since her coat was brown throughout the summer. Unlike the male ibex, a female lacked black coloring. Young ibex were colored like the female for the first year of life.

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The male had large, thick horns, curving outwards and backwards, then outwards and downwards, then inwards and upwards. The surface of the horn was ridged, and the ridges developing progressively with age. The ridges were said to each represent a year, so the total would correspond to the ibex's age. The female had short, cylindrical horns. Ibex fed on vegetation such as grasses and herbs.

Pyrenean ibex migrated according to seasons. In spring, the ibex would migrate to more elevated parts of mountains where females and males would mate. In spring, females would normally separate from the males, so they could give birth in more isolated areas. Kids were typically born during May, usually singularly. During the winter, the ibex would migrate to valleys that are not covered in snow. These valleys allowed them to eat regardless of the change in season.

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Diet and Nutrition


1. Pyrenean ibex Wikipedia article -

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