The Kri-kri, also known as the Cretan, Agrimi,
or Cretan Ibex goat, are feral goats that are
found in the Eastern Mediterranean,
specifically only the island of Crete and
three small islands just offshore (Dia,Thodorou, and Agii Pantes).
Kri-kri Goats have a light-brownish
coat with a darker band around their neck. They have two horns that sweep back
from their head. In the wild they are shy and rest during the day. They can
leap impressive distances and climb seemingly sheer cliffs.
Kri-kri Goats are not thought
to be indigenous to Crete. Most likely they were imported during the time of
the Minoan civilization. However, they are now found nowhere else.
As molecular analyses
demonstrate, Kri-kri Goats are not, as previously thought, a distinct
subspecies of wild goat. Rather, they are a feral domestic goat, derived from the first stocks of goats domesticated in
the Levant and other parts of the Eastern Mediterranean around
8000-7500 BCE. Therefore, they represent a nearly ten thousand year-old
"snapshot" of the first domestication of goats.
Archaeological excavations have found several wall paintings of Kri-kri
Goats. Some academics believe that they were even worshiped. On the island,
males are often called 'agrimi' (a???µ?, 'the wild one'), while the name
'Sanada' is used for females. The Kri-kri is a symbol of the island, much used
in tourism marketing and official literature.
By 1960, Kri-kri Goats were
under threat. There were under 200 of them. They had been the only meat
available to mountain guerillas during the German occupation in World
War II. There are still only about 2,000 Kri-kri
Goats on Crete and they are considered vulnerable: hunters still seek them for
their tender meat, grazing grounds have become scarcer and disease has affected
them. Hybridization is also a threat, as the population has interbred with
ordinary goats. Hunting them is strictly prohibited.