Walia ibex have increased in number and shifted their habitat range within Simien Mountains National Park, Ethiopia

Walia ibex (Capra walie) is an endemic and endangered species restricted to Simien Mountains National Park (SMNP). The population of walia ibex appeared to have gradually increased during the decade before our study. Our goal was to determine the current population status of walia ibex in SMNP. We conducted censuses throughout 2009 to 2011 to study population size, structure, and distribution of individuals.We stratified the Park using habitat features into eight different census sites, and a simultaneous total count was used to estimate the population size of walia ibex. The mean population size during the study period was 752 individuals. Walia ibex were found in groups of 12 individuals on average, and group size remained similar throughout the year. Density in our surveys was 8.0 individuals per km2, which is higher than the density of other ibex species. The male to female ratio was 1:1.6, and 19% of the population was in the yearling or kid age classes. Our surveys confirm that walia ibex have shifted their range in the SMNP. We believe the change in distribution is likely a response of walia ibex to human and livestock disturbances, and the presence of predators in the previous habitat range. Community-based conservation with fair and equal benefit sharing of resources of the Park is an important strategy for sustainable conservation of walia ibex in the Simien Mountains National Park.

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