Populations of the Spanish ibex have gradually declined throughout the last few centuries due to hunting, agricultural expansion and habitat decline (7). Throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, there was a major decline in population numbers due to the increasing amount of damage to the ibex’s natural habitat, as well as unrestricted hunting. This led to the extinction of the subspecies Capra pyrenaica lusitanica in 1890 (8).
Outbreaks of mange, which is a skin disease caused by parasitic mites,occurs at irregular intervals, and is known to have caused at least one considerable Spanish ibex population decline (8). Spanish ibex are also occasionally killed accidentally during wild boar hunting using dogs (1).
In previous years, populations of the Spanish ibex were sustained in low numbers due to competition with domestic livestock, which forced this species to live in marginal habitats (8).
This species may be further threatened as it is a high profile trophy-hunting species, with some individuals being valued at more than 2,000 Euros. Hunting is often a significant source of income to the local community in rural areas, and therefore it can be difficult to resolve this issue. The Spanish ibex can also occasionally be a pest to the local community, particularly to agriculture, which can lead to the local people being less inclined to protect this species (1).
Furthermore, competition with an introduced species, the aoudad (Ammotragus lervia), has the potential to become a conservation issue in the future (9) (10). The aoudad, a type of African wild sheep which was introduced into south-eastern Spain in the 1970s, has recently significantly increased its range. It is expected that there will be a level of competition between the Spanish ibex and this newly introduced species (11).