|Scientific Name:||Rupicapra pyrenaica|
|Species Authority:||Bonaparte, 1845|
|Red List Category & Criteria:||Least Concern ver 3.1|
|Assessor/s:||Herrero, J., Lovari, S. & Berducou, C.|
|Reviewer/s:||Hilton-Taylor, C. & Temple, H. (Global Mammal Assessment Team)|
This species is currently increasing in numbers and range. It is not believed to approach the thresholds for any of the criteria for the IUCN Red List. Consequently it is assessed as Least Concern. Subspecies R. p. pyrenaica and R. p. parva are also Least Concern. However, R. p. ornata is assessed here as Vulnerable (D1+2) as it has a very small population and restricted area of occupancy. It was previously assessed in 1996 as Endangered, but as a result of strict protection and a programme of captive breeding and reintroductions, its population has increased such that it no longer meets criterion D at this level. Ongoing conservation measures are required to ensure its future survival.
|Range Description:||Rupicapra pyrenaica is endemic to south-west Europe, where it occurs as three subspecies: R. p. ornata, R. p. pyrenaïca and R. p. parva (Shackleton 1997, Pedrotti and Lovari 1999). The Apennine chamois R. p. ornata now survives only in three small populations in the Abruzzo, Majella, and Gran Sasso-Monti della Laga National Parks in Italy, although earlier in the Holocene it ranged from the Sibillini mountains (Marche Region, Italy) down to the Pollino massif (Calabria Region, Italy) (Masini 1985, Masini and Lovari 1988). The isard or Pyrenean chamois R. p. pyrenaica is found in the Pyrenean mountains, along France' s border with Spain (including Andorra: C. Berducou pers. comm. 2006). The Cantabrian chamois R. p. parva occurs in the Cantabrian mountains (Spain). The altitudinal range of the species is 400-2,800 m (Palomo and Gisbert 2002).|
Native:Andorra; France; Italy; Spain
|Range Map:||Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.|
Overall, the status of this species has greatly improved since 1990. The population and range of the Pyrenean subspecies pyrenaica increased markedly from 1989 to 2003, although there have subsequently been some declines. The 1989 estimate for the total number of R. p. pyrenaica was around 15,500 animals (Shackleton 1997), but by 2003 there were estimated to be at least 53,000 (Herrero et al. 2004). This is now (2006) likely to be an overestimate of the population, as many chamois populations have locally declined since 2004 following severe mortality caused by viral disease, and French hunting bags have reduced although hunting effort has remained steady (C. Novoa pers. comm. 2006). Densities of R. p. pyrenaica tend to be lower outside protected areas. Not all subpopulations of subspecies parva have been censused, but the population was recently estimated at c.15,000 (Palomo and Gisbert 2002).
However, the Italian subspecies ornata remains very rare. Numbers of ornata have probably been low for the last few centuries, only starting to increase in the 1920s as a result of increased protection. Numbers plummeted again to just several tens of individuals in a single population in the Abruzzo National Park during World War II (Lovari 1989). As a result of conservation action, including re-introductions and the establishment of two new populations, numbers have increased and the population is currently estimated at about 1,100 individuals in three subpopulations (Mari and Lovari 2006, S. Lovari pers. comm. 2006), up from a total of c.400 individuals in the late 1980s (Lovari 1989). Not all of these are mature individuals.
|Habitat and Ecology:||The species is found in alpine meadows, rocky areas, and the forested valleys and lower slopes in mountainous regions. This species generally stays above 1,800 meters in alpine meadows during the warmer months of the year (Nowak, 1983). These animals make altitudinal migrations from the forests in the valleys to the more open alpine meadows (Pedrotti and Lovari 1999). In late fall and winter they have been known to enter lands below 1,100 meters, while usually staying on steep slopes, and rarely if ever occur in forested areas (Nowak, 1983). In recent years some populations have started to permanently inhabit forest (Mitchell-Jones et al. 1999; Herrero pers. comm. 2006).|
|Major Threat(s):||The threats to the species vary in different parts of its range. In Italy, subspecies ornata might be vulnerable to many factors because the total number is small, there are only three subpopulations, and genetic variability is very low (Shackleton 1997, S. Lovari pers. comm. 2006). Space and food competition with livestock, especially domestic caprins, seem to be the main limiting factors for ornata . Some poaching occurs, but does not seem to impair the viability of the chamois population in Abruzzo National Park. There are currently no problems with disease for the Italian subspecies (J. Herrero pers. comm. 2006). However, in France and Spain disease is currently the most important threat. Pestivirus appeared in the Pyrenean subspecies in c. 2004, and sarcoptic mange outbreaks periodically cause local declines in the Cantabrian subspecies (J. Herrero pers. comm. 2006). In Spain and the Pyrenees, chamois coexist with domestic livestock, but there do not appear to be problems with competition; indeed in the Pyrenees the presence of domestic livestock is considered to benefit the chamois, via maintenance of young and good quality forage, which increases the carrying capacity (J. Berducou pers. comm. 2006). Most Pyrenean and Cantabrian populations are hunted (with the exception of within National Parks). Chamois is a major game species in Spain and is important socially and economically as a source of rural livelihoods. Hunting is carefully managed and revenue from hunting is returned to the local community. In Spain, regional governments set quotas, and hunting is not at an unsustainable level (J. Herrero pers. comm. 2006). In France, hunting is essentially a recreational and non-profit leisure activity, and average annual quotas are under 10% of censused populations. This is sustainable, with only a few local exceptions (C. Berducou pers. comm. 2006).|
The species is listed on Appendix III of the Bern Convention and Annex V of the EU Habitats and Species Directive (as part of R. rupicapra sensu lato).
In Spain, the species occurs in three national parks, at least 10 natural parks, and a number of other reserves (J. Herrero pers. comm. 2006). Spanish protected areas include Montana de Covadogna and Ordesa National Parks; Reres Natural Park; Alta Pallars-Aran, Benasque, Cadi, Cerdana, Fresser y Setcasas, Los Circos, Los Valles, Vinamala, Mampodre, Picos de Europa, Saja, Somiedo and Sueve Hunting Reserves. Spanish hunting reserves are large hunting management units with strictly controlled culling (C. Berducou pers. comm. 2006). In France, it occurs in a number of protected areas (Pyrenees-Occidentales National Park, Roc-Blanc, Moudang and Mont-Vallier Mountain Reserves, Orlu Nature Reserve and other small reserves where hunting is banned: C. Berducou pers. comm. 2006). A study of population dynamics is ongoing in France, as well as a detailed survey of the population size and distribution (C. Berducou pers. comm. 2006). In France, there is a hunting plan that is designed to correct geographic imbalances in numbers and distribution, but might be difficult to achieve. A major restoration effort was carried out in the French Pyrenees between 1981 and 2000, involving the translocation of more than 600 individuals (Herrero et al. 2004, C. Novoa and C. Berducou pers. comm. 2006). In Andorra there are a few small reserves with hunting quotas (C. Berducou pers. comm. 2006).
In Italy, the autochthonous population of subspecies ornata inhabits Abruzzo National Park, and all recent and planned re-introductions and introductions are into protected areas. A group of 22 chamois was released in the Majella massif between 1991 and 1994, and more recently, 26 were re-introduced into the Gran Sasso massif in cooperation with local villagers. A captive breeding population (numbering 18 individuals in 2006: S. Lovari in litt. 2006) is kept in four large enclosures in as many national parks. No studbook has been kept, which is a major shortcoming in the captive breeding program (Shackleton 1997). The subspecies ornata is strictly protected under national and international legislation - it is listed on Appendix II of the Bern Convention, Annex II* and Annex IV of the EU Habitats and Species Directive, Appendix I of CITES, and as a “specially protected species” under Italian hunting law. A slowly increasing number of alpine meadows in the species’ range have been forbidden to livestock grazing to reduce competition. This action may generate cautious optimism about the species’ future. Proposed conservation measures include the following: 1) Consider benign introductions for a number of areas in the central and southern Apennines, once their suitability has been adequately assessed. Some national parks (e.g. Pollino, Gran Sasso-Laga, Majella and Sibillini) could in the future also host populations of the Apennine chamois. 2) When selecting individuals for transplants and captive breeding, consider Nascetti et al.'s (1985) finding of an alarming lack of genetic variability in the surviving nucleus of the Abruzzo National Park. This was most likely a result of living at low density for a long time and of population bottlenecks occurring at World Wars I and II. 3) Keep detailed breeding records, genetic profiles, and develop a studbook, for each of the captive breeding populations. 4) Avoid releasing Alpine chamois into areas of potential (re)introduction of Apennine chamois, as if such an action was carried out, it would prevent the subsequent release of the latter species (Shackleton 1997).
Future priorities for the species as a whole include extending monitoring to all populations, and to increasing knowledge of demography and the impact of hunting. It is particularly important for monitoring and research to take place outside National Parks, where chamois are hunted.
|Citation:||Herrero, J., Lovari, S. & Berducou, C. 2008. Rupicapra pyrenaica. In: IUCN 2013. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 12 March 2014.|
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