Northern chamois

Rupicapra rupicapra

TAXONOMY

Rupicapra rupicapra (Linnaeus, 1758), Switzerland. OTHER COMMON NAMES

English: Alpine chamois; French: Chamois; German: Alpengemse; Spanish: Rebeco alpino.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

Head and body length 35-52 in (90-130 cm), height 30-32 in (76-81 cm), and weight 53-110 lb (24-50 kg). Tawny-brown in summer, dark brown or blackish brown in winter, with pale undersides and whitish on head and throat. Horns are slim and hooked, 6-8 in (15-20 cm) long.

DISTRIBUTION

European Alps, Carpathians, Balkans, Turkey, and the Caucasus. HABITAT

Rocky slopes, alpine meadows, and forest edge. BEHAVIOR

Females and young form groups of up to 15-30 animals. Males are usually solitary and join herds in late summer.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

Mainly herbs and grasses in summer, includes lichen, moss, and tree shoots in winter.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Polygamous. Mating occurs in November, the young are born May-June. Younger males are driven away from females by dominant males.

CONSERVATION STATUS

Subspecies R. r. cartusiana and R. r. tatrica are Critically Endangered, R. r. caucasica is Vulnerable, and R. r. asiatica is Data Deficient.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS

Hunted for its meat and hide, made into "chammy" leather. ♦

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