The Alpine ibex was, at one point, restricted only to the Gran Paradiso National Park in northern Italy, and in the Maurienne Valley in the French Alps but in recent years it was both reintroduced to and recolonised most of the European Alps, and is also found in most of all the French alpine ranges, southern Germany, Switzerland and Austria.
An excellent climber, its preferred habitat is the rocky region along the snow line above alpine forests, where it occupies steep, rough terrain at elevations of 5,900 to 10,800 ft. Alpine ibex are typically absent from woodland areas although adult males in densely populated areas may stay in larch and mixed larch-spruce woodland if there is no snow.
The Alpine ibex has a short, broad head and a duller coat. It has brownish grey hair over most of the body, a pale abdomen and slightly darker markings on the chin and throat and in a stripe along the back. They moult twice a year, firstly in April or May, and then again in September, when they replace the short summer coat with thicker hair and a woolly undercoat. As with all goats, males have beards, while females do not. Ibex were protected from poaching and their numbers increased, reaching 3,020 in 1914. The ibex enjoyed further protection when Gran Paradiso was made into a national park in 1922. Animals from this stock both drifted naturally and were introduced to other areas. Today, the total population of Alpine ibex is over 20,000.