The calving season of the Nubian ibex (mountain goat) is in early spring, so these days it is relatively common to see mothers and their newborn kids in the Judaean Desert. Indeed, on Thursday, a female hiker in Masada National Park noticed a newborn kid she thought was in a tough spot and brought it to park inspectors. Similar rescues were recorded this week in the Ein Gedi Reserve.
Those “rescues” are extremely harmful, according to the Israel Nature and Parks Authority, which wants you to know that newborn mountain goats must not be approached or touched, as this will “stain” the animal, which can cause the mother not to recognize it as its own.
The baby goats in these cases were returned to where they had been “rescued,” in the hope that their mothers would continue to care for them.
If you see a wild animal in distress, call the Nature and Parks Authority hotline *3639 or report to an inspector in the area, but by all means do not approach the wild animal.
The rescue of the Nubian ibex from extinction and the maintenance of this population on the cliffs of the Negev and Judaean deserts is considered one of the most prominent achievements of nature conservation in Israel. Only a small number of mountain goats survived in the Judaean Desert at the time of the establishment of the state. Following conservation efforts, the goat population began to recover and spread in the Judaean and Negev deserts. After the Six-Day War, the goat population also spread to the northern part of the Judaean Desert.
A female Nubian ibex is capable of giving birth to one offspring, but if she is older and more experienced, her physical condition is good and she is in an area where plenty of food is available, she will give birth to twins. Drought years see only a few litters, and their survival rate is low.
The calving occurs in the spring and the mating is in the autumn before the rains, so the female gambles on the amount of grazing she would find in spring, whether to produce two, one or no offspring.
The female goats have been observed in “kindergartens” where several females gather the baby goats together and leave one or two females to look after the young, in an area protected by cliffs. This allows other females to graze in more dangerous areas.
As they grow older, the newborns can be seen in play, imitating the adults in war games, exhibiting their prowess at an early age against their peers.
A male Nubian ibex weighs 52 to 60 kg. The female weighs 23-40 kg. The length of the horns in the male is up to 130 cm and in the female up to 40 cm. The Nubian ibex grows winter fur that is richer in the wool component (but not as much as the Himalayan goat fur, which is 20 cm thick). In summer the fur is thin and shiny and reflects much of the sun’s light.
In the hot hours the Nubian ibex rest in the shade, where before lying down they dig with their front legs to remove the top layer of warm soil.