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Pyrénées. Isard / Izard / Pyrenean chamois (Rupicapra pyrenaica) | by VB31Photo
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Pyrénées. Isard / Izard / Pyrenean chamois (Rupicapra pyrenaica)

Pyrénées. Isard / Izard / Pyrenean chamois (Rupicapra pyrenaica)


The Pyrenean chamois, called "izards" in French, ("isard pirinenc" in Catalan and rebeco pirenaico in Castellano) are more than mountain goats.

They are a symbol of Pyrenean wildlife, together with marmots and vultures.

They are easy to recognize thanks to their backward-hooked horns.


The izard was close to extinction 50 years ago, but it is now protected and the specie is saved. They usually live higher than 3000 meters, but in winter, they can get lower to eat in forests (about 1300 meters on this picture).


This morning, I walked in the Pyrénées close to a small village called Les Forges d'Orlu, in the Ariège department, (South of France). I planned to walk up to a mountain lake called "l'étang de Naguille". After 2 hours, I was stopped by too much snow and the path was too dangerous for me. I had to get back and I was really disappointed. I then tried another path in the forest, that I expected to be less snowy. After 2 more hours climbing, I was stopped again by the snow. I was a bit sad, tired and hungry. I stop for a lunch in the forest.

After a few minutes, I saw this female izard approaching from me. She did not notice me since the wind was blowing in the good direction, my noise was covered up by a torrent, and I was out of sight between the trees. I crept to my camera and I began the shoot her, hiding behind a tree. She was probably very hungry since she was pregnant (with an large abdomen). There is not much to eat for the Izards in the end of winter, and her young will be born in 2 or 3 months (usually in June).

However, she saw me after less than a minute. She kept on watching me a few seconds, and escaped higher in the mountain.


Izards are very shy animals. They can often be seen in summer, but they stay far from visitors, usually hiding in high unreachable rocks. It is very uncommon to be so close to them (about 10 or 12 meters today !)


That was a GREAT moment !


There is another picture of this izard further in my gallery.


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Taken on March 21, 2014