Acrobats of the Mountain Crags
SITUATED along the western shore of the Dead Sea was the ancient city and surrounding wilderness called En-gedi. The area’s rocky passes and precipices provide an ideal home for the mountain goat of the Promised Land, similar to those seen here.
This surefooted creature is among the wonders of animal creation. Let us open the Bible and get a closer look at this fascinating animal.
“The High Mountains Are for the Mountain Goats”
So sang the psalmist. (Psalm 104:18) Mountain goats are well equipped for living in lofty places! They are extremely agile, moving over rugged terrain with great confidence and speed. This is partly due to the construction of their hooves. The opening can expand under the goat’s weight, giving the animal a firm grip when standing or moving on narrow rock shelves.
Mountain goats also have extraordinary balance. They can leap great distances and land on a ledge scarcely large enough to accommodate all four feet. Biologist Douglas Chadwick once observed a mountain goat of another type use its balance to avoid being trapped on a ledge that was too narrow for it to turn around. He says: “After a glance at the next ledge some 400 [120 m] feet below, the goat planted its front feet and slowly walked its rear end over its head along the rock face as though it were performing a cartwheel. As I held my breath, the goat continued until its hind feet came down so that it faced the direction from which it had come.” (National Geographic) No wonder mountain goats have been called “the acrobats of the mountain crags”!
‘Do You Know When Mountain Goats Give Birth?’
Mountain goats are very timid creatures. They prefer to live isolated from man. Indeed, people have difficulty getting near enough to observe them in their wild state. Thus, the Owner of “the beasts upon a thousand mountains” could rightfully ask the man Job: “Have you come to know the appointed time for the mountain goats of the crag to give birth?”—Psalm 50:10; Job 39:1.
God-given instinct tells the female mountain goat when it is time to give birth. She searches out a secure spot and delivers one or two kids, usually at the end of May or in June. Newborn kids acquire a sureness of step within just a few days.
“A Lovable Hind and a Charming Mountain Goat”
Wise King Solomon urged husbands: “Rejoice with the wife of your youth, a lovable hind and a charming mountain goat.” (Proverbs 5:18, 19) This was not meant to belittle women. Apparently, Solomon was alluding to the beauty, grace, and other outstanding qualities of these animals.
The mountain goat is among the countless “living souls” that give overwhelming testimony to the Creator’s wisdom. (Genesis 1:24, 25) Are we not happy that God has surrounded us with so many fascinating creatures?
[Picture Credit Line on page 24]
Courtesy of Athens University