The unmistakeable silhouette of an Apennine chamois (Rupicapra pyrenaica ornata) on a mountain ridge in the Italian Abruzzi. These mountains represented for a long time the last stronghold for this endangered (sub)species.
Adult male chamois facing a sheer wall. Born to live in the mountains, these animals have special hooves that can spread almost to ninety degrees apart and have a hard, cutting edge and a soft, gripping inner part.
A female and her newborn kid resting on a tiny ledge. In spring, females give birth to their offspring in complete solitude and in very remote locations.
Alerted chamois kids in summer. Young chamois learn very quickly to detect danger and take cover.
A scene that almost reminds us of the Ice Age: a little herd of chamois moves in front of the grand scenery of Campo Imperatore in the Gran Sasso Massif.
A female and two kids walk on a mountain ridge against the waters of the Adriatic Sea at sunrise. These animals inhabit in great numbers the mountains of Majella, the wildest massif of all, which raises as high 2793m asl but is also surprisingly close to the sea.
A moonlit herd of chamois is resting on a mountain plateau on a summer night. True wilderness can still be found in the Apennines.
In autumn, Apennine chamois sport their winter coat, tipically coloured of black, cream and isabelline. This, together with the long horns  the longest of the genus Rupicapra, proably earned them the definition of
An adult male chamois shakes its body while urinating, thus wetting its coat with that fluid and the feromones it contents. This will enhance the sexual receptiveness of females: a true love elisir!
Adult male chamois aggressively chases off a competitor from the female herd it is attending. The end of autumn is the peak of the mating season for these animals.
At the first snow, an alpine accentor meets a chamois. The Apennines still host an incredible diversity of mountain-dwelling species.
Too much snow makes it difficult for chamois to find forage and move around. At the end of the mating season, the animals would thus move to their wintering ground.
Camouflaged among dry grass and bushes thanks to the colors of its coat, an adult male photographed in its wintering ground on the south-facing slope of a deep and remote canyon.
"ORNATA - The world's most beautiful chamois."

This was the uncompromising way in which the Apennine chamois (Rupicapra pyrenaica ornata), a distinct subspecies of the Pyrenean one, was described at the beginning of the 20th century from the mountains of the Abruzzi National Park in Central Italy, where, miraculously, it had escaped extinction.

Very little was known about the life and behaviour of this symbol of Apennine wild nature, perfectly adapted to living in a world of sheer rock walls and steep slopes, and able to survive both the capriciousness of the mountain climate and ambushes of bears, wolves and eagles. At least this was the case until the ethologist Sandro Lovari undertook his first fundamental studies in the early 70s.

Almost forty years have passed since these researches took place and in the meanwhile more has been discovered about the biology of the chamois. Scientists stressed the importance of a specific plant association for the development of the young animals in summer; while, safe wintering grounds allow a good survival of the chamois during the bad season.

In order to ensure the future of this subspecies and compensate the low genetic diversity of the main population, in the early 90s several individuals have been moved from their place of birth in the Abruzzi National Park toward other protected areas in the Apennines, where this species was once living. Nowadays, the Apennine chamois is present with a population of about 1000 individuals over an area ranging from the Sibillini Mountains in the north down to the Mainarde range in the south. New kind of habitats have been colonized, new challenges have been faced.

Now more than ever, the compelling and positive story of the Apennine chamois is a powerful example of what science, management and politics can do together in order to preserve the unique Apennine ecosystem.
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