Cretan ibex (Kri – Kri)
The Cretan ibex with the scientific name Capra aegagrus creticus (known as Kri – kri, Cretan wild goat or ibex), is an endemic subspecies of chamois and the only kind of ibex in Europe.
The ancestor of the Cretan ibex, according to scientists, was introduced to Crete in a wild form from Asia. Then it came in contact with the tame goats on the island and from the reproduction of both species was born the Kri – Kri.
By the beginning of the 20th century, the species had spread to all three major mountain ranges of Crete (White Mountains, Idi and Dikti), but its population is limited to about 700, living in the National Park of Samaria, in the White Mountains, in an area of 150,000 acres.
The ibex had almost disappeared from all the mountains of Crete during the Second World War, as the rebels had no other source of food in the mountains of Crete, apart from hunting.
The enumeration of 1960 has showed that there were only 200 Cretan ibex left in the White Mountains and for this reason the species was declared protected.
Even today the Cretan Ibex is mainly threatened by poachers, the limited grazing land and diseases. Another danger that threatens the conservation of the species is its reproduction with tame goats, that graze freely in the mountains.
For its conservation, some pairs of the Cretan ibex have been transported to the protected island Theodore of Chania, but also to other parts of Greece and abroad (e.g. Israel) and live either freely (e.g. Parnitha) or restricted.
The Cretan Ibex eats shoots and leaves of shrubs and low trees and grass and broadleaf herbs. It prefers rocky areas with steep gradients, as it can jump over 8 meters. During summer it ascends to higher altitudes, while in the winter it descends to lower grounds.
The Cretan Ibex is depicted on many murals, suggesting that Kri – Kri were worshiped in antiquity.