Capra nubiana (F. Cuvier 1825) Nubian Ibex
Hebrew name: יעל, ya’el
Global Threat: EN (C2a) – Endangered
Regional Threat: VU (C2b,D2) – Vulnerable
Distribution area: Ibex in Israel are found in 4 subpopulations: Judean Desert, the Negev Highlands, Eilat Mountains and Golan Heights.
Historic distribution: Ibex inhabited cliffs and mountains and are already mentioned in the Bible. The number of surviving ibex in the Judean Desert and the Negev in 1955, when the Wildlife Protection Law was enacted and nature reserves declared, is unclear. However extreme hunting pressure led them to develop flight distances of hundreds of meters from humans, and the population was clearly very small and on the verge of extinction when Israel became independent.
Typical Habitat: Nubian ibex inhabit steep mountains and cliffs in the desert (east and south of the 100 mm precipitation isohyet), cut by deep wadis with abundant vegetation, particularly acacias, with water sources nearby.
Threat and Disturbance Factors:
2. Death from starvation following eating plastic bags containing garbage.
Population Size Estimate: The Israeli ibex population has apparently reached its habitat’s carrying capacity and comprises approximately 1000 individuals: circa 500 in the Judean Desert; 200-300 in the Negev Highlands; 150-200 in the Eilat Mountains and about 100 in the Golan Heights.
Fluctuations in Population Size: The population has been growing since the 1950s, with large fluctuations due to variations in precipitation, food availability and hunting. Exact estimates of population size are difficult to obtain due to problems with counting/estimate methods.
Isolation between Subpopulations: It is not clear whether there is passage of individuals between the Eilat Mountains population and the Negev Highlands population. The population that was transferred to the Golan Heights is isolated from the Judean Desert population.
Necessary Steps for Species Preservation:
1. Creating large nature reserves that include cliff areas suitable for ibex, and ecological corridors between them – from the Judean Desert to the Negev Highlands, and from there to the Eilat Mountains.
2. Preventing hunting (which is particularly severe in the Judean Desert plateau).