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Land of the ibexes

by Lena Wiesler  • 2018-11-21 • Report • Allgäu
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  • Majestic ibexes in the Allgaeu Alps
    Majestic ibexes in the Allgaeu Alps
    Photo: M. Feldengut, Tourismus Oberstdorf

There are often referred to as “rock wall artists”: ibexes. Today several hundred of them populate the Allgaeu Alps again. The majestic animals with their impressive horns prefer to live on steep terrain with enough room to jump over staggering boulders.

But this was not always the case: Ibexes had been practically eradicated from the entire region. They were hunted intensively because people believed that their horns, hair and blood would benefit people’s health. Around 1820, there only still lived about 100 animals in the Italian Gran Paradiso. Due to the strict conservation laws of the last few ibexes and the transfer of young stock to other alpine regions, the species was able to grow again. Some ibexes arrived in the Kleinwalsertal and thus in the Allgaeu Alps in the 1960s.

Following ibexes

Ibexes in their natural habitat

Two larger groups of ibexes still live near the Mindelheimer Hütte and at the main ridge of the Allgaeu Alps. The habitat in the high alpine terrain suits them perfectly. The rock walls are so steep that snow cannot stick to the ground and thus leaves plenty of food for the ibexes – grass, nutritious herbs and moss. A suitable home for a species that does not mind the dangerous heights.

Nonetheless, even ibexes have to practice: Young fawns that are born in May have to know how to cope with the steep rock walls by the time winter comes.

To prepare for snow, storms, ice and falling rocks, the young goats are taught to climb steep cliffs. If injured or wounded ibexes are found by humans, they are taken care of in the wild animal park near Obermaiselstein and released once they are nursed back to health.

Ibex tour

If you want to get really close to the majestic animals, you should go on the so-called “Steinbock Tour”. In five days you will go from Oberstdorf via the Fiderepass and Mindelheimer Hütte, passing Rappenseehütte and Heilbronner Weg – a well-known high alpine trail over the summits of the main Allgaeu ridge – and back to Oberstdorf via Kemptner Hütte. It is very likely that you will encounter ibexes in their natural surroundings. User
Lena Wiesler 
Updated: 2018-11-21


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