Alpine Ibex on Cingino Dam

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!

Please comment! I love to hear from readers!

However, don't be surprised if your comment doesn't show up right away. Due to the massive amount of SPAM comments, I've had to change the comment settings tor manual approval instead of automatic. Your comment WILL show up, but sometimes I'm busy and it takes me a while to see it!


  1. Awesome writer 🙂

  2. Rural Writer says:

    Someone sent me good copy! 😉

  3. Cool! Thank you for clearing that out. Have written a small article about these amazing animals with two links to you (in danish, doesnt make sense for anyone else) Great site you are doing, by the way!


  4. Rural Writer says:

    Thanks for stopping by David!

    Glad you enjoyed the post, and thanks for the kind words.

  5. Wow! That’s amazing! I get vertigo just looking at this!

    • Rural Writer says:

      I hear ya! I don’t think I’d like to be clinging to the side of that dam! It amazes me how those ibex can walk on it.

  6. Aye they are amazing beasts, I find them fascinating every time I go to the Alps, that sort of behaviour doesn’t surprise me. It is most likely they are after salt.

  7. Rural Writer says:

    How lucky you are to actually get to see them! I think it would be fascinating to actually see them in their native habitat.

    Thanks for visiting Rural Ramblings!

  8. I did a double-take when I first saw these photos. Fascinating stuff — thanks for sharing!

  9. That’s an amazing photo and vid. Are they wearing their anti-slip socks I wonder? You have to ask what that particular lichen has that can’t be found on the mountain slopes. The film title mentions mineral salts.

  10. These truly are amazing animals! Anyone interested in reading further on the Ibex living near Eilat, Israel in the Negev desert would be well advised to read: “High Hills and Wild Goats: Life Among the Animals of the Hai-Bar Wildlife Refuge” by Bill Clark. You can read a short summary of the book here:

    • Rural Writer says:

      There’s a link to the book on Amazon in the top box in the sidebar.

      Thanks for letting us know about it and thanks for stopping by!

  11. Hi, I´m from Brasil, I´m art director of a science magazine, and we are making a report about salt. I´m look for one photo of Alpine Ibex. These pictures are yours. Do you know if I could use it.

  12. these are not IBEX… they are goats . Chamois Goats that have suction cup like hooves. IBEX belong to sheep family and are not equipped with the same foot-ware.

  13. Sorry “Merecat”, it appears there is a bit of linguistic confusion afoot here. If you are contending that these are not the south african antelope, you are correct; but these are indeed alpine ibex (which are a species of goat). According to the sometimes accurate Wikipedia, there is a term in Afrikaans which makes those antelope sound like these goats.
    This is what they say:
    “Its names in various European languages are French bouquetin, Italian stambecco, Slovene kozorog, German Steinbock, and Dutch steenbok. Confusingly the Dutch word has entered the English language (via Afrikaans) not for this animal, but as the name for an unrelated species of African antelope, the steenbok (Raphicerus campestris).”

    I hope that can soothe everyone’s nerves.

    Great footage, either way.

  14. Strange animals, but wasn’t this supposed to be about the dam like it said on the description?

    • Rural Writer says:

      The title says “Alpine Ibex on Cingino Dam” … in other words, about the ibex on the dam.

      The description shown on a search says, “Perched on the steep sides of the Cingino Dam wall, Alpine Ibex eat moss and lichen, plus licking salt off stone wall. Fantastic pictures of fantastic climbers!”

      So sorry, but no, it’s not supposed to be about the dam. It’s about the ibex ON the dam, exactly like it is described in both title and description.

      If you have an interest in the dam itself, try a search on just Cingino Dam and I’m sure plenty of info will pop up!

  15. Dam! those ibex can climb. They are dam good climbers!

  16. Great footage of these Ibex, much like you i am skeptical of these tyoes of photos, there are times though when nature can be as amazing as any concocted photoshopped image!

    BTW – I hope these Ibex are good at predicting showers, i would imagine it may be rather embarassing being 2/3 the way up the dam wall nibbling on salt and lichen when the rain starts tumbling down, would become pretty slippery!

  17. A Ture Vegan says:

    Let me unequivocally state that I am a true vegan. With that being said, I draw the line when I comes to the Alpine Ibex.

    For those who have never tried it, the ever-tasty Ibex Salad on a Procrustean Bed is very satisfying. I personally prefer the northern Italian Alpine Ibex; those tasty little critters that like to eat the moss and lichen off the stone walls of Diga del Cingino.

    This culinary delight is sure to titillate the palate of the most avid gourmet.

  18. Nicky Luger says:

    Those Ibex goats are amazing. We humans just like God’s creatures epitomise, THAT WHERE THERE IS A WILL< THERE IS A WAY. 🙂

  19. Those goats are crazy!

    but it is neat to see them clinging to the side of the dam.

    • I first saw the dam climbing Ibex in a documentary about the northern regions of Italy. I’m facinated by their ability to climd the almost vertical walls. I’m going to Diga Cingino to see it with my own two eyes next week!


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