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A species of wild goat with impressive horns that can grow up to a metre in length, the Alpine ibex can be spotted on vertiginous rocky outcrops above the tree line in the Alps. It can also be spotted on the fifth coin in our Wildlife in our Sights series, which celebrates the diversity of Europe’s native wildlife and the sustainable management of the natural habitats in which it continues to thrive.
Life above the tree line
Almost hunted to extinction in the 19th century because its blood and horns were thought to possess mythical healing powers, today the Alpine ibex numbers some 45,000. After a gestation period of five to six months, the Alpine ibex’s young are born in May or June. Immature males and females live together in a herd but the young bucks form a separate herd as they approach maturity. In the rutting season, adult bucks seek out females and try to win control over the herd by putting on a show of strength. They do this by confronting rival bucks on hind legs and bringing their horns crashing down on those of their opponents. In spring, the bucks become solitary again and spend more and more time alone as they get older.
The obverse of the coin shows an ibex in profile surrounded by alpine primroses and edelweiss. Like the other coins in the series, the lower part of obverse is exquisitely decorated with a handsome design that gives the series its distinctive character. The coin’s reverse shows an ibex with its young on a steep rock face, as a marmot looks on.
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