Alpine Ibex on Cingino Dam

October 15, 2010

A good friend from Australia (Hi Susan!) sent me an email this morning with some really neat pictures in it. 

picture of Cingino dam

Diga del Cingino

The picture was taken in northern Italy, and is the Cingino Dam (Diga del Cingino).

Now check out this closer view, and notice the “dots” all over the side of the dam wall. . .

photo of alpine ibex on Diga del Cingino

Alpine Ibex grazing on the side of Cingino Dam in Italy.

Those are Apine Ibex!  However, being the skeptic that I am, I decided to do a little research and see if it was for real or somebody got creative with PhotoShop.

photo of ibex on side of dam

Alpine Ibex on side of Cingino Dam in Italy

Turns out the email Susan sent was absolutely correct, although according to, there are other versions of this email floating around that incorrectly state the pictures are of the Buffalo Bill Dam in Wyoming, and the animals are Bighorn Sheep.  Wrong!

picture of ibex on side of dam

"He maketh my feet like hinds feet: And setteth me upon my high places" - Psalm 18:33

Apparently the ibex like to eat the moss and lichen off the stone, and to lick the salt off the dam wall.

photo of two ibex on side of dam

Lunching on Lichen

You can see them in action in this video. . .

These critters definitely have a great sense of balance!  Even the little ones get in on the action!

picture of young alpine ibex on dam

Young Alpine Ibex on Cingino Dam

I did a little research to learn more about the Alpine Ibex. The male ibex can grow to a height of about 3 feet (1 metre) and weigh up to 220 pounds (100 kilograms). The females are generally only about half the size of males.

Both male and female ibexes have large, backwards-curving horns although those of the male are substantially larger and can grow to an impressive length of about 3 feet (1 metre).  These horns are used as a defense against predators such as wolves, lynxes, bears and foxes.

picture of Alpine Ibex

Alpine Ibex (by Karsten Dörre)

The Alpine Ibex was long regarded as a mystical animal and almost all of body parts were sought after as ingredients for magical potions and to cure various illnesses. As a result, they were almost extinct because of very extensive hunting. However, in the 1850s King Emmanuel II of Italy created a game preserve in the Italian Alps for the Ibex. Today, about 4,000 Alpine Ibex roam the area of the king’s preserve, now the Gran Paradiso National Park.

Awesome animals, awesome scenery!

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