Chamois: Black Beauties On Mountain Tops

People feel that encountering a Chamois on the highest peaks of the Carpathian Mountains is something very special indeed, an opportunity to be proud of. The Chamois (Rupicapra rupicapra)1 is certainly an exceptional creature in our fauna. They only roam the limited space of the rocks in the tallest mountains and the woods bordering on those rocks, so it is hard to run into these magnificent creatures.Agile, strong, and fast, the Chamois bring gentleness to the rough world of the rocks. Gutsy, enjoying perfect balance, the Chamois cross the snow-covered seas of stones and steep slopes, managing to avoid deadly avalanches. They live in rather small groups and only old males prefer the philosophical solitude of the mountain peaks. As they passionately love tranquility, it is hard for the tourists who hike on the tops of our mountains to catch a glimpse of them. They are climbers par excellence and they go up on the tallest rocks in what amounts to acrobatic leaps. They always look for food – grass, bushes, or lichen – in the morning and in the evening; the rest of the day they relax or play gleefully. In violent winters, they climb down from the rocky heights to the fir-tree woods.It is a magnificent view for the tourist to watch, as the sun goes down, the females and their kids grazing under the careful watch of the males. Their brownish color with black nuances greatly protects them in the mountain landscape. Scientists say the Chamois of the Carpathians is the largest and the heaviest of all races. This miracle of nature is a true treasure of our mountains.
Survivor of Quaternary Age
Almost 2 million years ago, when mammoths and woolly rhinoceros walked the earth,2 the climate was really tasteful to the Chamois. But the melting of the ice and climate warming frightened them and made them withdraw to the alpine heights of Eurasia, winning the title of the “oldest mammal” in our country. They only live in a few mountain ranges. They are elusive because they live in groups of five to 30, led by old, experienced females, while the males, the guardians of the group, sound the alarm with their characteristic whistling and hitting the ground with their front feet when they hear the slightest noise. So, the other members of the groups make themselves scarce in no time up the sharp alpine rocks.As they can leap up from two to six meters, the bumpy terrain, which is difficult even to experienced mountaineers, poses no problem for the Chamois: if necessary, they may even venture to swim across alpine lakes, even if this endeavor exhausts them.
The Most Dangerous Predator
Their natural enemies include bears, wolves, lynx, and mountain eagles. Still, these predators do not threaten to reduce their numbers. Nature’s most feared enemy, man, is the one who does that! In the 1920s, poaching eliminated the Chamois of the Rodna Mountains in northern Romania, when men made liberal use of the weapons left from World War I.Action has been taken to repopulate that area and the Chamois has been declared an endangered species, to save it from extinction.
Milk for BambiThe mountain rescuers in Busteni, Prahova County, say they are carrying out one of the hardest missions they have ever had in their career after saving a wounded Chamois kid. These men, who are used to carrying out tremendous rescue operations in severe cold and inaccessible areas, say almost seriously that this is their most difficult operation, because now they have to feed the little creature, which seems to be only two weeks old, with a milk bottle and then start searching the Bucegi Mountains to find his family. The kid was discovered by two tourists who say they were amazed to see this little ball of brown fur coming to them; they realized that he was lost and had no chance of surviving. They looked around hoping to find his mother, but in vain. So they wrapped him up in a warm cloth and they went directly to the mountain rescue team.There, the kid was instantly named Bambi and he began to enjoy privileges from that moment onwards. The rescuers bought a milk bottle, looked for fresh goat milk, and, after feeding him, they let him relax in the middle of the bed. But they felt the hard part was only beginning, because the creature was just a few days old, and, if his mother was not found, they would need specialists to help them deal with him. So, for lack of a better solution, they started out in the mountains with Bambi toward the place where he was found, hoping that his mother would find him3

With the milk bottle in their pockets, the rescuers spent many hours in the woods hoping that the mother would show up. But in vain. Eventually, they took Bambi back to their headquarters because they could not bring themselves to leave him alone in the woods. Now the rescuers are his big, loving family, taking good care of him. They will bring him up with great affection, as if he were a child4.
Compiled and translated by Monica Voiculescu Sources: 1. 2. Adrian Sava, GeoMagazin, April 9, 20093. Evenimentul Zilei daily, May 6, 20094. Adelina Anei,

by Monica Voiculescu