Hybrid Wildlife wildlife photographer Andrea Battisti captured an incredible sighting of wild ibex (mountain goats) scaling a near-vertical natural dam wall in Antrona Valley Natural Park, Italy.
These single-minded animals ran straight up the face, stopping every few seconds to lick off the nutrient-rich salt deposits on the rock.
Alpine Ibex are big mountain goats that live among the peaks in the European Alps where predators cannot reach. But due to this habitat, these goats lacks salt and other essential minerals in their diet which they can’t get from grass. Instead these animals source out natural salt licks such as dam walls.
Dams are composed of concrete, and concrete releases a calcium-aluminium mineral called ettringite as part of the curing process. Up to twenty percent of hardened concrete is composed of ettringite.
Only the Alpine Ibex can exploit this resource. Being excellent climbers, the Ibex will climb the sheer vertical face of the dam’s wall using the small protruding boulders as foothold to lick ettringite off the wall’s surface. The Ibex can scale such great heights because of their soft, split hooves that can grip any surface like a pincer.