Ibex of the Cerces (French Alps)
The ibex des Cerces is observed either from Hautes Guisane, in Briançonnais country, or from the beautiful wild valley of Clarée (Névache). The animal, always placid, except during the period of rut, seems to come straight from prehistory and is easily approached. Which is not a reason to disturb him. Some tips, photos and a video of the big goat (Capra ibex).
A growing population in the Alps
The animal owes its survival to the man, who barely prevented his extermination. King Victor Emmanuel II had the Alpine ibex protected in the middle of the 19th century in Valle d'Aosta. It is from this valley to the east of Mont Blanc that were extracted individuals to reintroduce them in the rest of the Alps. The Cerces massif in northern Hautes Alpes saw two males arrive from Switzerland in April 1959, then two pairs in October 1960 from Switzerland.
The female ibex are called the étagnes and the young goats. The larger male is also called the goat. Although the Cerces massif is not located in the central area of the Écrins National Park, the Park's agents look after the population of about 300 ibexes that populate the area. Another population of ibexes is not far away in the area of Grand Veymont (Vercors Massif south of Grenoble). The Cerces massif is also home to eagles, see a video of an eagle flight in Vallouise, but also many vultures.
How and where to easily observe the ibex of Cerces
We recommend two starting points: the area of the Col du Galibier and that of the Alpe bridge.
From the sector of the Col du Galibier, stop in one of the last bends to altitude 2500 meters and follow a small path in balcony that will take you under the peak of Grand Galibier.
From the Alpe bridge, climb either towards the Grand Lac by going around the edges of the Bruyère, or by going around the Aiguillette du Lauzet. Beware it is about mid-mountain walks that require a minimum of training and precaution (monitor the weather, the risk of avalanche, your physical condition and technical capacity). Otherwise do not hesitate to call an attendant mountain.
The ibex is often present in our visual fields without taking the time to find it. A good pair of binoculars will allow you to find the Ibex still well camouflaged in its alpine scenery. The video on this web page shows you large shots where the ungulate is almost not visible but observable by searching the landscape with his binoculars.
Always take care not to disturb the animal, the absolute criterion is not to make it move. Sputum (strong breath) are the sign of his disapproval, inconvenience, inconvenience. Positioning himself below him will bother him less. Even if the ibex is often immobile, not to say phlegmatic, do not get too close. Needless to mention, dogs accompanying you will only disturb the ibex. Beware of the Rut period in early winter when you will not be completely safe from charging you as long as you do not sufficiently respect the previously stated rules.
Video snapshots of the ibexes of Cerces
We gathered some animated images during walks in the areas of the passes of Galibier, Lautaret and Aiguillette du Lauzet. Music video "Canon in D Major" Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com). Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License
Some animals are either ringed or have a GPS collar, as shown in the images of this blog post. It is not a beginning of domestication but scientific tools to better understand and protect the ibex of Cerces. GPS tracking is possible for some individuals almost in real time at the following website : http://bouquetins.ecrins-parcnational.fr/
The ibex during the summer are fleeing the heat and probably also the tourist overpopulation that lasts only a few weeks from mid-July to the end of August. They take refuge on the heights and on the cliffs where they climb with a disconcerting ease. Less easy then to find it at this time.
Their vertical migration follows that of vegetation. When in the spring, in the fall and winter the peaks are covered with snow and the lower slopes leave a little room for grassland then your chances of seeing them increase. Do not hesitate to show patience and a certain obstinacy and you will have the chance to observe them more or less closely. Otherwise you can console yourself by watching the video above or ponder this maxim full of wisdom: "Consider that not getting what you want is sometimes a great deal"!
Photos of ibexes in high Guisane
Some essential links :
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