Dots on the Diga del Cingino Dam wall

A-m-a-z-i-n-g.....This is the Diga del Cingino dam in Italy - but look closer... see the spots on the dam wall?

They are Alpine Ibex and they like to eat the moss and lichen and lick the salt off the dam wall. Adriano Migliorati snapped the pictures at the 160-foot-tall Cingino Dam. The goats are attracted to the dam's salt-crusted stones. Grazing animals don't get enough of the mineral in their vegetarian diets.

The Alpine Ibex was long regarded as a mystical animal and almost all of body parts were sought after as ingredients for magical potions and to cure various illnesses. As a result, they were almost extinct because of very extensive hunting. However, in the 1850s King Emmanuel II of Italy created a game preserve in the Italian Alps for the Ibex. Today, about 4,000 Alpine Ibex roam the area of the king's preserve, now the Gran Paradiso National Park.

When mature both male and female ibexes have large, backwards-curving horns although those of the male are substantially larger and can grow to an impressive length of about 3 feet. I wonder if the mature adults also climb the dam walls.....with those huge horns I'd think balance would be a problem.

This young ibex is soooooooo cute.

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