The Walia Ibex

Habit loss, due to the expansion of agriculture, as well as illegal poaching have led to the number of Walia ibex in the wild being diminished. However, efforts are being made to boost their numbers, and tourism has a role to play in this: by providing a steady stream of revenue and employing local people, it incentivises the preservation of natural destruction rather than their destruction for economic purposes. 

The animals have a white belly and a brown coat, and the large, backwards-reaching horns - often more than a metre in length - that the males possess are used for fights between males over dominance and access to mating opportunities, where horns clash with incredible force. Females also have horns, but they are smaller (as are the females as a whole). Males weigh between 80-125 kilograms and have striking black bears that thicken with age. 

Walia Ibex

Walia ibex are social animals that live in herds of 5 to 20, although more mature males often partially detach from the main group and only fully return to the herd for mating season. This generally takes place in late autumn and early winter and results in the female Walia ibex giving birth to one or two offspring, after a gestation period of up to 165 days. 

Their habitat is mountain forests and grassy subalpine plains, and they spend their days grazing on a mix of herbs, shrubs, grass and other vegetation, often travelling up to 2 kilometres in a day. They also sometimes stand on their hind legs to get to fresh shoots of giant heath, a striking sight. 

Walia ibex are one of a number of fascinating animals to be found in the Simien Mountains - whose dramatic contours were described by Homer as the ‘chess pieces of the gods’ - with others including mountain Nyala, gelada baboons and Ethiopian wolves, as well as abundant birdlife. At Brilliant, we offer multi-day tours and treks of the area, during which time you’re guaranteed to spot at least some of this magnificent wildlife.

Walia Ibex in the Simien Mountains

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