In early November, snow and ice already cover the Tatra mountains. Slopes and valleys seem devoid of life
The faint silhouette of a chamois appears in the freezing fog that brings the temperature to several degrees below zero
A closer look reveal icycles and the effects of the unrelenting weather on the chamois habitat
Tatra chamois spend almost the whole year on steep and rugged terrain, where avalanches and other threats may keep humans and predators at bay
Food can be found by patiently digging under the crust of frozen snow
A female with her kid graze dry and poorly nutritious grass found under the snow cover. Only few young chamois survive their first winter
During the rut, an adult male chamois in its prime, the flanks wet of its own urine to spread its sexual pheromones, bellows to challenge its rivals
A male answers to a rival's bellow
In a wave of fresh snow, an adult male runs hastily down from a cliff
Its rival rushes in the deep snow
The chase begins, with the two males running down from a very steep slope in full speed. The chamois might chase eachother for minutes and cover long distances
An aroused male wreaks havoc in the herd of females and young
A urinating female is approached by a male, which checks her oestrus status by curling its upper lips (“flehmen”)
The thick winter coat and several adaptations allow these hardy animals to stand even the harshest weather conditions
An endangered Tatra chamois is portrayed in its mountain habitat, made of rock, ice and wind

With less than 300 individuals left in the wild, the Tatra chamois (Rupicapra rupicapra tatrica) is listed as "critically endangered" by the IUCN and protected by law in Poland and Slovakia, occuring solely within two national parks. Control of sheep grazing in Tatra National Park led to an increase in population numbers, but more recently numbers have again declined. None knows whether the rapid population decline is due to predation, human impact or climate change. However, there are strong reasons to believe that poaching by legal hunters and some other issues like inbreeding depression might be the actual cause of the chamois decline.

Like the other chamois (sub)species, Tatra chamois mate in autumn, and more specifically in November. Despite what the calendar might say, often winter has already arrived to the cold Tatra mountains by then and chamois must then endure extremely harsh conditions, while nature already demands them energies for their ultimate performance.

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