Ibice de walia (Sp), Abessinischer Steinbock (G), Bouquetin d'Abyssinie (F). Also called wali (Simien).
DESCRIPTION Shoulder height 36-40 inches (91-102 cm). Weight 175-250 pounds (80-115 kg).
The walia ibex is larger than the Nubian ibex, with a stouter build, darker color, shorter beard and heavier horns. The general color is dark chestnut brown, and there are dark markings on the throat, chest and edges of the flanks. Chin and underparts are whitish. There are conspicuous black and white markings on the legs, a characteristic it shares with the Nubian ibex. Tail is short, with a stiff black tip. There are scent glands beneath the tail. The walia differs from all other ibex in having a bony protuberance, or boss, on its forehead. The male's horns form a half circle, and are shorter and thicker than those of the Nubian ibex, with fewer, more widely spaced cross ridges or knobs. Females are smaller than males, much lighter and duller in color, beardless, and grow short, curved horns of up to about 12 inches (30 cm) in length.
BEHAVIOR Similar to the Nubian ibex, except that the walia has much more food and water available to it. Breeds throughout the year, but with a peak from March to May, usually with a single young, though often twins, born 5-1/2 months later. When a female gives birth, a group of adults will combine to protect her offspring from eagles.
HABITAT Precipitous mountain slopes where there is considerable moisture and vegetation, usually at altitudes of 7,500-9,500 feet (2,300-2,900 m), but can be as high as 13,500 feet (4,100 m).
DISTRIBUTION Found only in the Simien Mountains of north-central Ethiopia.
REMARKS Were it allowed to be hunted, the walia would stand near the top of African trophies in desirability. It is a handsome animal with fine horns. Its senses are exceptionally acute, and it is alert, wary and intelligent. It lives on some of the most appalling cliffs in the world, where access is both difficult and dangerous.
STATUS Listed as critically endangered by the IUCN and as endangered by the USF&WS (1970). Total numbers have been estimated at 300, mostly in Simien Mountains National Park. Protected by law, but enforcement leaves something to be desired, as it continues to be poached by local residents.