Gran Paradiso wildlife
by Gabriella Fanali
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These photos were taken at various times in the heart of the Gran Paradiso National Park, in the area around the village of Cogne situated in the Aosta Valley complex. This Graian Alps area is dominated by the Gran Paradiso massif, the only Alpine peak which breaks the 4000 m barrier and is totally "Italian" in the sense that it is not shared with other nations. The panorama below, taken on July 30, 2006, shows the high-altitude portions of the massif seen from North (for more details, click here).

The extensive (700 km2) National Park hosts a broad range of Alpine flora and fauna. Thanks to well enforced protection, some of the wildlife species living here are quite confident towards humans and relatively easy to approach and photograph.

Capricorns or alpine ibex (Capra ibex)

are no doubt the kings of this region, the emblem of the Park, and the principal reason why the protected area has been originally established.
The Italian name for the species is stambecco.

This and the next four photos: May 2005

Changing fur

In the Spring, the males who descended to the valleys are changing their furs from winter style to summer style. This makes them look as if they had some dermatological problems. Which, to some extent, is true but there is nothing pathological about it, ...


... it just causes a lot of itching. Fortunately, the horns are excellent scratching tools.
Click here to see an amazing double scratch.
For more capricorn photos, click here and here.


While enjoyoing the calm, almost insolent self-confidence of capricorns, keep your eyes open.
You might spot, for example, a fox on a lookout for mice.

Fox photos: August 2007

Red fox (Vulpes vulpes)

This fox ventured close to human dwellings. She was no doubt very young and did not know that such a behaviour was improper, especially in broad daylight, and that her folk and humans interact in a miriad uneasy ways.
Within the confines of the Park, she is likely to get away with her impudence.

What's that

For an intelligent youngster, life is full of surprises. Even a tiny insect can leave her open-mouthed.

Chamois (Rupicapra rupicapra)

In the middle of a meadow, a chamois does not look particularly graceful. Especially when (i) it is taken by surprise like this one and (ii) it is changing its fur and therefore looks all unkempt. You should see them jumping the cliffs much higher up to appreciate their elegance.

This and all the following photos: August 2007


Unlike capricorns, chamois are quite shy. Not really scared, but once you disturb them, they prefer to trot away.

A herd of male capricorns

This picture conveys a new meaning to the term wild herd. They are undomesticated animals, but the view is as peaceful and calm as any pastoral scene ona can imagine.
These are all males.
In Spring, the females stay in higher locations, giving birth and tending to the young, while the males are kindly invited to move to the more hospitable valleys where even a male can manage to take care of himself ...

... though it may be quite a burden on his psyche.

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