Movie | Ibex: Survival within the French Alps

Excessive within the Alps, the place blizzards swirl and big vultures swoop, herds of nimble-footed ibex stay harsh, perilous lives. Watch them scale sheer cliffs, dig by way of snow for meals and even dodge assaults from golden eagles.


These animals are a species of goat unique to Europe’s Alps. I travelled to Chamonix, a mountainous area close to Mont Blanc after which walked up the Refuge de Varan within the La Fiz mountain vary and to a plateau beneath the 1700m peak, Tete a L’Ane.


To ensure a sighting and to remain protected in these wild mountains I took a guided tour with Daniel Rodrigues of Chamonix Guides


Male ibex are greatest recognized for his or her big curved horns. In winter they group in small herds simply above the snow line the place the solar lights up their darkish coats, turning them a golden bronze. As a teen I spent hours drawing the mesmerising twists of their lengthy horns.


The females are nonetheless caring for final yr’s youngsters and I discover a group scrambling over sheer cliffs. Ibex hooves have a tough outer case that permits them to dig into ledges within the rock and delicate pads on the bottoms of their hooves that mould to the mountains floor like climbing footwear.


Though their our bodies seem thick and muscular from the facet, ibex are literally fairly slender when seen head on. This helps preserve stability on the steep slopes. 


Over winter, Ibex can sluggish their coronary heart fee down by as much as 60%, which means they don’t have to eat as a lot meals to outlive. They eat twigs and branches however these grass makes up greater than 50% of those herbivores’ food plan and they also want all their power to dig beneath the snow to seek out it.


Despite their intimidating horns, ibex truly are fairly placid, though when the males combat amongst themselves the clashes could be brutal. The horns are additionally necessary when heading off predators like wolves, foxes and eagles.


Incedibly I get to witness such an assault as a golden eagle swooped down, attempting to push the youthful ibex from the cliffs. It swooped time and again hoping to single out a weaker one. An ibex may feed this apex predator for a while.


Decrease down the valley I spot one other golden eagle, a juvenile. lunging at a crimson fox. The fox holds its floor however as they spar the stress is apparent.


However among the many most unimaginable wildlife to be seen on these slopes are bearded vulture. With a formidable three metre wingspan, bearded vultures are Europe’s greatest birds. Till not too long ago there have been no bearded vultures left within the Alps, however because of a reintroduction programme there are actually 300 bearded vultures and so to see one is basically particular.


On decrease slopes are chamois, a species of goat-antelope and a part of the Rupicaprin household. Chamois stay in combined herds, on inhospitable rocky slopes the place in wintertime they feed on the branches and buds of mountain ash ,willow and sycamore bushes. ALPINE WILDLIFE Most individuals go to Chamonix to ski, however for me, its all concerning the wildlife right here. And it has been fascinating to get an perception into the tough lifetime of the ibex and to additionally spot elusive bearded vultures, golden eagles and shy chamois.


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