Capra walie 


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Cetartiodactyla Bovidae

Scientific Name: Capra walie
Species Authority: Rüppell, 1835
Common Name(s):
English Walia Ibex, Walia
Taxonomic Notes: Here treated as a distinct species from Capra ibex and Capra nubiana, following Grubb (2005, in press).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Endangered B1ab(iii); D ver 3.1
Year Published: 2008
Date Assessed: 2008-06-30
Assessor(s): Geberemedhin, B. & Grubb, P.
Reviewer(s): Festa-Bianchet, M. & Harris, R. (Caprinae Red List Authority)
Listed as Endangered as the total population of the species is estimated at around 500 individuals (probably less than 250 mature individuals total), largely confined to the Simien Mountains National Park. Although the population has been showing signs of increase over the past decade or so, the habitat continues to be degraded by human encroachment.
Previously published Red List assessments:
1996 Critically Endangered (CR)
1994 Endangered (E)
1988 Endangered (E)
1986 Endangered (E)
1965 Very rare and believed to be decreasing in numbers

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:Ethiopia is home to the world’s only population of Walia Iibex, which is found only in and around the Simien Mountains (Yalden et al. 1984; Hillman et al. 1997; Nievergelt in press) in the North Gonder Administrative Zone of the Amhara National Regional State of north-western Ethiopia. Formerly more widespread in the Simen Mountains, most remaining Walia Ibex are found within the boundaries of the Simien Mountains National Park (13,600 ha), mainly along 25 km of the northern escarpment between Adarmaz Camp and Chennek Camp. There are also four small populations outside the protected area: north of Werk Amba west of the park; between Silki and Walka north-east of the park; between Bwahit and Mesarerya; and just north of Weynobar along the Ras Dejen escarpment to the north (Hillman et al. 1997).
Countries occurrence:
Number of Locations:1
Lower elevation limit (metres):2430
Upper elevation limit (metres):2600
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:In 2004, the poulation stood at around 500, a slight increase over earlier estimates of 200-250 animals in 1994-1996 (Nievergelt in press). The population has been showing signs of increase over the past decade or so.
Current Population Trend:Increasing
Additional data:
Number of mature individuals:500-500
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:The Simien Mountains are characterized by huge gorges and gulleys, both of which carve out steep and jagged cliffs, with this species inhabiting only the high cliffs that rise above the lower elevated plateau. However, ibex may descend to plateaus in areas where there is less human interference or disturbance.

Walia Ibex have varied social units, such as female-based groups that include kids and young males until they are about two or three years, groups of adult males, and mixed groups (Nievergelt 1981, Dunbar and Dunbar 1981). Most groups are relatively small, although groups of more than 50 individuals have been observed (Ludi 2006). Sexual segregation is pronounced mostly during parturition and lactation. This species is polygynous, with breeding year round, unlike other ibex species; however, there is a rutting peak from March to May. The diet of the Walia Ibex includes a great variety of herbaceous and woody plants (Dunbar 1978, Nievergelt 1981).

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: This species was hunted in the past, and may be so again if conflicts with local farmers increase.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Having survived two decades of war, the main threat to this species is now habitat destruction caused by human encroachment (the remaining natural habitat is extremely limited), even though most of the villagers who lived in the lowland areas of the Park were resettled outside the Park in 1978. However, they have returned once again taking advantage of the war that occurred over the last two decades or so and are residing within the National Park creating increasing pressure on the Park and its wildlife. Today, there are over 30,000 people living within and just outside of the National Park boundary. Despite the existence of national and regional legislation, the remoteness of the area coupled with the existence of people living within and outside of the Park prior to its establishment as a Conservation Area makes legislation difficult to enforce.

A few Walia ibex also move to the south-east of their natural range to feed on cultivated crops at places where there is cultivation of barley and other crops on steep gradients. These incidences occasionally lead to conflict with local farmers (B. Gebremedhin pers. comm.).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: The Walia Ibex is protected by Ethiopian law and cannot be hunted except under a Special Permit for Hunting Game Animals for Scientific Purposes. The Walia Ibex is used by the Ethiopian Wildlife Conservation Organization (EWCO) and the Ethiopian Wildlife and Natural History Society (EWNHS) as their emblem, and frequently features in other Ethiopian symbolism (such as the national football team).

The Simen Mountains National Park, which contains the majority of the world population of this species, was gazetted by the Simen National Park Order No. 59 (1969) and became a World Heritage Site in 1978. Here the Walia Ibex may be receiving adequate if limited protection. The Park, while providing a core conservation area, must be considered in terms of a much larger environmental unit. It is essential to maintain wildlife corridors between the Park and surrounding areas of the Simen mountains. A detailed management plan for the Park and surrounding areas was developed after a 20-year inter-disciplinary research program (Hurni 1986). It deals not only with the Walia Ibex, but all the area’s unique wildlife, as well as the needs of the rural human population. Currently, the Park is administered by the Parks and Wildlife Administration Authority of the Regional Government. The park has attracted more international and national attention following its inclusion on the List of World Heritage in Danger in 1996. An integrated conservation and development project – the Simen Mountains National Integrated Development Project - funded by the Austrian Government and implemented in collaboration with the Parks Authority has resulted in considerable conservation activity in the last seven years.

The following conservation measures have been proposed: 1) establish the 400 km² buffer zone proposed in the 1986 Management Plan (Hurni 1986) for Simen Mountains National Park, which would increase the effective area of Simen Mountains National Park to 590 km² and serve two main functions; 2) reduce human and livestock impact in the National Park; 3) prohibit all hunting within the Park and enforce regulations effectively; 4) although no hybrids of domestic goats with Walia Ibex have been reported, free-ranging domestic goats must be eliminated from the Park and around other ibex populations to exclude the possibility of hybridization occurring; 5) with no Walia Ibex in captivity anywhere in the world, a small number should be captured to form the nucleus of a captive-breeding group in a closely managed and protected location in Ethiopia, and for a captive-breeding population outside the country; and 6) establish a monitoring programme that includes systematic execution and control of the conservation measures (Hillman et al. 1997; Nievergelt in press). A detailed ecological study of the species and habitat assessment on the potential new areas for re-establishment is needed.

Classifications [top]

3. Shrubland -> 3.6. Shrubland - Subtropical/Tropical Moist
suitability: Suitable  major importance:Yes
4. Grassland -> 4.5. Grassland - Subtropical/Tropical Dry
suitability: Suitable  major importance:Yes
0. Root -> 6. Rocky areas (eg. inland cliffs, mountain peaks)
suitability: Suitable  major importance:Yes
1. Land/water protection -> 1.1. Site/area protection
2. Land/water management -> 2.1. Site/area management
3. Species management -> 3.1. Species management -> 3.1.1. Harvest management
3. Species management -> 3.4. Ex-situ conservation -> 3.4.1. Captive breeding/artificial propagation
5. Law & policy -> 5.4. Compliance and enforcement -> 5.4.2. National level
5. Law & policy -> 5.4. Compliance and enforcement -> 5.4.3. Sub-national level

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
  Conservation sites identified:Yes, over entire range
In-Place Species Management
In-Place Education
1. Residential & commercial development -> 1.1. Housing & urban areas
♦ timing: Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

2. Agriculture & aquaculture -> 2.1. Annual & perennial non-timber crops -> 2.1.2. Small-holder farming
♦ timing: Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

5. Biological resource use -> 5.1. Hunting & trapping terrestrial animals -> 5.1.1. Intentional use (species is the target)
♦ timing: Past, Unlikely to Return    
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

1. Research -> 1.2. Population size, distribution & trends
1. Research -> 1.5. Threats
3. Monitoring -> 3.1. Population trends

♦  Food - human
 Local : ✓ 

Bibliography [top]

Dunbar, R. I. M. 1978. Competition and niche separation in a high altitude herbivore community in Ethiopia. East African Wildlife Journal 16: 183-199.

Dunbar, R. I. M. and Dunbar, E. P. 1981. The grouping behaviour of male Walia ibex with special reference to the rut. African Journal of Ecology 19: 251-263.

Gebremedhin, B. 1997. Walia ibex (Capra ibex walie): population status and distribution in Simen Mountains National Park, Ethiopia. Walia 18: 28-34.

Gebremedhin, B. 2002. Walia ibex: review on population trend and conservation. Proceedings of the Biological Society of Ethiopia: 59-67.

Gebremedhin, B., Naderi, S., Rezaei, H. R., Maudet, C., Ficetola, G. F., Rioux, D., Luikart, G., Flagstad, Ø., Thuiller, W. and Taberlet, P. In prep.. Conservation status of the critically endangered Walia ibex (Capra walie) based on evidence from genetic data and environmental parameters.

Grubb, P. 2005. Artiodactyla. In: D.E. Wilson and D.M. Reeder (eds), Mammal Species of the World. A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference (3rd ed), pp. 637-722. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, USA.

Grubb, P. In press. Genus Capra. In: J. S. Kingdon and M. Hoffmann (eds), The Mammals of Africa, Academic Press, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Hillman, J. C., Hurni, H. and Nievergelt, B. 1997. Ethiopia. In: D. M. Shackleton (ed.), Wild Sheep and Goats and their Relatives. Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan for Caprinae, pp. 27-30. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK.

Hurni, H. 1986. Management Plan Simen Mountains National Park and surrounding rural area. UNESCO World Heritage Commission and Wildlife Conservation Organisation, Ethiopia.

IUCN. 2008. 2008 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Available at: (Accessed: 5 October 2008).

Nievergelt, B. In press. Capra walie. In: J. S. Kingdon and M. Hoffmann (eds), The Mammals of Africa, Academic Press, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Yalden, D. W., Largen, M. J. and Kock, D. 1984. Catalogue of the mammals of Ethiopia. 5. Artiodactyla. Monitore zoologico italiano/Italian Journal of Zoology, N.S. Supplemento 19(4): 67-221.

Citation: Geberemedhin, B. & Grubb, P. 2008. Capra walie. In: The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2008: e.T3797A10089871. . Downloaded on 28 November 2015.
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