These barren and apparently lifeless hills are a typical feature of the area of Campo Imperatore, a vast altitude plateau in the southern side of the Gran Sasso massif. Thousands of years of livestock grazing and human history shaped the landscape in most of the mountain areas of Abruzzo.
A Rock partridge (Alectoris graeca) gets the first morning sunlight. The protected areas of Abruzzo conceal some true mountain dwellers: a precious array of rare and scarcely known species.
The Apennine chamois (Rupicapra pyrenaica ornata) males at the end of summer. Fit for a life in the harshest mountains and exclusive of the Apennines, this species miraculously survived only in Abruzzo and now is an ambassador of the precious biodiversity of this region.
A Griffon vulture (Gyps fulvus) soars with the snowy summit of Mount Velino in the background. In Abruzzo, the long and unrelenting winter makes the highest mountains a truly hostile and wild place.
On a September morning, light and clouds play on the rugged slopes of Mount Prena. This mountain belongs to the range of the Gran Sasso, which includes the highest peaks in the Apennines and the sole glacier south of the Alps.
Extinct until thirty years ago, red deer (Cervus elaphus) have been reintroduced in Abruzzo and are now returning in large numbers to many areas, re-establishing their ancient range. They are an attractive species and an important prey for wolves, but on the other side they seem responsible for great damage to forestry and agriculture.
Round slopes in the high altitudes of Majella are a unique feature of this mountain wilderness. Space, silence and solitude are inrerrupted only by the sound of the wind and the call of choughs (Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax).
Golden eagles (Aquila chrysaetos) are present with several reproductive pairs in the Central Apennines. Preying upon animals until the size of a fox or a young chamois, they play an important role in the mountain ecosystems.
Almost like a continuum of mountains and valleys, the Abruzzo National Park protects the most iconic natural features of the region: bears, wolves, eagles and chamois are all here. This park is the oldest and most beloved protected area of Italy.
Wild boars in Abruzzo show steep fluctuations in their numbers. Where one year one can witness to real invasions, the next one these animals have almost disappeared. The recover of the Italian wolf population is tightly connected to this speciesí abundance.
A November sunset enlightens the beech forest: by far, the most widespread vegetation type and landscape feature in the mountains of Abruzzo.
A wolf (Canis lupus) feeding on a dead horse encounters the glance of a cow. Hated and feared, often persecuted, this animal always lived in Abruzzo, managing to survive by learning how to profit from its human enemy. Only recently people are slowly beginning to change their opinion toward this species and try to find the way for a peaceful coexistence.
The Marsican Brown bear has been a constant protagonist in the history, life and traditions of mountain people. It is the true genius loci of Abruzzo. Its small population, perhaps reduced to a few dozens individuals, makes this the most endangered mammal in the region.
Autumn colours and atmosphere in a hidden forest. With trees older than 500 years, the oldest and virtually pristine Beech forest of Europe has been recently found in a valley in the Abruzzo National Park.
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