One of the largest mountain goat species

Widely distributed in Central and South Asia, the Asiatic ibex is one of the largest mountain goat species. They are recognised by their heavy built bodies and long and impressive horns that grow larger with age. The Asiatic ibex live in small herds varying in size but can form larger herds during the breeding season (rut). When a predator is near, Asiatic ibex will vocally warn each other about the threat. Their best defence against predation is their ability to move in steep and challenging terrain.  The population is estimated to be 100,000 – 150,000 individuals. The IUCN Red List categorizes the Asiatic ibex as Near Threatened with a decreasing population trend. CITES have listed the species under Appendix III for Pakistan, supporting cooperation between countries to prevent unsustainable or illegal exploitation.

Flagship species

IUCN Red List (<year of assessment>)

KAZ Red Book


KGZ Red Book (2006)

TJK Red Book (2015)

Approx. population size in the project region

Asiatic Ibex Capra sibirica

Near Threatened (2020)

Not listed

Not listed

Not listed

20,500 (KAZ)

41,000 (KGZ)

25,500 – 40,000 (TJK)

Distribution and habitat

The Asiatic ibex is found in Afghanistan, China, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. They live in the three largest mountain ranges in the world: the Himalayas, the Hindu Kush, and the Karakoram where its habitat includes open alpine meadows, rocky terrain, and crags on the highland landscapes between altitudes of 1500-6000 m. The species is a seasonal migrant, mainly altitudinal, seeking out lower elevations during winter. It is, however, also known to move across the landscape, sometimes travelling over long distances.


In some regions, the Asiatic ibex is the primary prey for snow leopard and wolf, but young and sick animals are also killed and scavenged by foxes, lynx, and golden eagles. The conservation of the Asiatic ibex is, therefore, important for the survival of the entire ecosystem in the mountain areas of Central Asia.

Certain types of parasites thrive in the fur of the ibex. This attracts the attention of magpies and other bird species creating a symbiotic relationship where both species benefit: the birds get a supply of food from the ibex and, in turn, the ibex gets groomed by the bird.

The Asiatic ibex impacts vegetation communities within its range, controlling the growth of some plant species. They do not usually compete with other wild ungulates as they use different areas of the mountain ranges and so there is infrequent overlap. They do, however, occasionally compete for forage with argali sheep.


Local people hunt the Asiatic ibex as a supplementary food source by permit, although during recent years quotas have been low or hunting has been restricted thus a smaller threat. Many countries also offer trophy hunting of big male ibexes. Although this has negligible effects itself, poorly regulated hunting could have negative impacts on the populations and lead to changes in age and sex composition. Unfortunately, poaching is widespread across the region.

Climate change is posing new challenges for the Asiatic ibex. Species adapted to cold environments are particularly sensitive to a warming climate and can force them to move to higher latitudes to avoid heat. The main drivers affecting the survival of the Asiatic ibex are changes in precipitation, temperature, and wind. In the Pamir, for example, the complex ecosystem is highly sensitive to climate change. With warmer climate and increased precipitation, the glaciers are retreating faster affecting reliable water sources which has a direct impact on plant and animal communities.

Grazing by domestic sheep and other livestock creates competition for resources and reduces the forage availability for the Asiatic ibex. Free-ranging yaks, in particular, are an issue because they graze in the remotest and highest mountain areas. Where poaching is rampant, the behaviour of the Asiatic ibex shows strong avoidance towards human activities and domestic livestock, further reducing the availability of suitable habitats. However, where the Asiatic ibex is protected they can become habituated to both people and domestic animals.

S. Ahmad, I. I. Strelnikov, A. Ahmad, M. N. Rajpar, M. Z. Khan, K. Wanghe, I. M. Ahmad, G. Nabi, D. Li.  Recent advances in ecological research on Asiatic ibex (Capra sibirica): A critical ungulate species of highland landscapes. Global Ecology and Conservation. 2022. E02105

F. Xu, M. Ma, W. Yang, D. Blank, Y. Wu. Test of the activity budget hypothesis on Asiatic ibex in Tian Shan Mountains of Xinjiang, China. Eur. J. Wildl. Res., 58 (1) (2012), pp. 71-75

Fedosenko, A., D. Blank. 2001. Capra sibirica. American Society of Mammalogists, 675: 1-13.

Zhuo, Y.; Wang, M.; Zhang, B.; Ruckstuhl, K.E.; Alves da Silva, A.; Yang, W.; Alves, J. Siberian Ibex Capra sibirica Respond to Climate Change by Shifting to Higher Latitudes in Eastern Pamir. Diversity 2022, 14, 750.