An Ultimate Ungulate Fact SheetReturn to Artiodactyla

Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Chordata
    Class: Mammalia
      Order: Artiodactyla
        Family: Bovidae
          Subfamily: Caprinae
            Genus: Capra

Capra nubiana

      Nubian ibex


Capra nubiana [F. Cuvier, 1825].  
Citation: In É. Geoffroy and F. Cuvier, Hist. Nat. Mammifères, pt. 3, 6(50):2 pp. "Bouc sauvage de la Haute-Egypte".
Type locality: Egypt, "Upper Egypt".

Click on the pictures above for a larger view of the photographs

General Characteristics

Body Length: 105-125 cm / 3.5-4.1 ft.
Shoulder Height: 65-75 cm / 2.1-2.5 ft.
Tail Length: 15-20 cm / 6-8 in.
Weight: 25-70 kg / 55-154 lb.

The Nubian ibex is relatively small compared to other ibexes.  Its coat is a light sandy brown in colour with the hindquarters lighter.  The underparts are almost white, and the upper side of the tail is darker.  Bucks have a dark stripe on their front legs and one down their back, as well as a dark beard.  During the October rut, the neck, chest, shoulders, upper legs, and sides of bucks become dark brown to almost black in colour.  The semicircular horns curve upward, backwards, and finally down.  While they are found in both sexes, but are much larger in males than females.  Horns on bucks grow up to 120 cm / 48 inches long, and have 24-36 knobs on the outer curve.  The much thinner, shorter horns of females grow up to 35 cm / 14 inches.

Ontogeny and Reproduction

Gestation Period: 5 months.
Young per Birth: 1-2
Weaning: After 3 months.
Sexual Maturity: At 2-3 years.
Life span: Up to 17 years.

Mating occurs during the late summer months, especially October.  The majority of kids are born in March.

Ecology and Behavior

In contrast to most desert animals, the Nubian ibex drinks almost daily.  The light, smooth, shiny coat is thought to reflect a large amount of incoming solar radiation, which allows the animals to remain active throughout the day, even during hot summer afternoons.  During summer nights, the Nubian ibex rests in high, open areas of slopes, allowing a variety of escape routes should danger present itself.  During the cooler winter nights, herds rest in more sheltered places, like caves or under overhangs.  Nubian ibex, although equipped with a semi-waterproof coat, do not like to get wet, seeking shelter if possible during rain storms.

Family group: Single sex herds, with kids staying with their maternal herd until the age of three years.
Diet: Grasses, leaves.
Main Predators: Leopard, bearded vulture, eagle.


Rocky, desert mountains with steep slopes in northeastern Africa and parts of Arabia

Range Map (Compiled from Shackleton, 1997)

Conservation Status

The Nubian ibex is classified as endangered by the IUCN (1996), with an estimated population of 1200 animals in 1986.


Ibexes belong to a confusing species complex, with the definitions between species and subspecies being very controversial.  Previously, all species were classified under Capra ibex, though here they are all discussed as separate species.  The Nubian ibex is still often combined with the Ethiopian ibex.  Ibex (L) a kind of goat, a chamois.  Capra (Latin) a she-goat.  -anus (Latin) suffix meaning belonging to; Nubia is an undefined stretch of land in northern Africa.

Literature Cited

Mendelssohn, H.  1990.  Nubian ibex (Capra ibex nubiana).  In Grzimek's Encyclopedia of Mammals.  Edited by S. P. Parker.  New York: McGraw-Hill.  Volume 5, pp. 525-527.

Shackleton, D. M. [Editor] and the IUCN/SSC Caprinae Specialist Group.  1997.  Wild Sheep and Goats and their Relatives.  Status Survey and Action Plan for Caprinae.   IUCN: Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK.  pp. 172-193.

Wilson, D. E., and D. M. Reeder [editors]. 1993. Mammal Species of the World (Second Edition). Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press.  Available online at

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© Brent Huffman,
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