Wildlife in the Alps: Spotlight on the Chamois


The chamois (Rupicapra rupicapra) is one of the most iconic wildlife species of the Alps and it is quite easy to recognize them. Their short black horns have a very characteristic shape: they are curved backwards. Males, as well as females, have these unique horns. Another distinctive characteristic is the markings on their head. A chamois has a white colored face with two pronounced black strips running from the eyes towards the nose and a white line running down the center of the chamois’ face. Personally, I think these stripes give this animal a bit of a cheeky look!

Observe a chamois from above

To see these facial markings, you need to get up close, but chamois are quite shy and tend to run away as soon as they spot a hiker. However, they are known to look for danger coming from below. So, if you’re hiking in the Alps and spot a chamois from above, you’re more likely to observe the animal without being seen yourself.   

Where to spot them?

The best time of the day to spot a chamois is early in the morning or early in the evening. In summer you have a good chance of seeing them above the treeline, grazing in an alpine meadow or agilely running across a steep scree slope. However, they spend lots of their time in the forest. Especially during cold and snowy winter months these ungulates seek the protection of the forest where they search for food such as shoots, lichen and mosses.

Simone van Velzen

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