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Lord of the rocks

The Ibex

An marked adult male ibex peeking out of the grass.

Ibex (Capra ibex) risked extinction in the Alps: in the second half of the nineteenth century their range was so badly reduced that the only place they were found was the Royal Hunting Reserve of Gran Paradiso, where there were less than one hundred. In the 1920s Victor Emmanuel III "the hunter king" decided to reintroduce them to the Maritime Alps, to the area that was then the Royal Hunting Reserve of Valdieri and Entracque. On these mountains the ibex formed the first colony outside Gran Paradiso. Thanks to later reintroduction operations and spontaneous migration, today we estimate their population to be around 1500 over the Italian-French Maritime Alps area.

In May and June the ibex leave the rocky ledges on the mountain tops where they have spent the winter to move down to the lower pastures . Around this time it is not difficult to spot large groups of male ibex busy "scratching" with their horns to get rid of their thick winter coat making room for their darker summer coat. Ibex, too, like chamois are counted every year, which allows us to calculate the size of the population and variations over time. For ibex too, the healthy state of the population has allowed us, over the years, to catch animals to repopulate other areas in the Alps where the species was missing or poorly represented. Ibex have been the subject of numerous university studies of international importance involving both Italian and foreign institutions.

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Ente di gestione Aree protette delle Alpi Marittime