Reintroduction of the chamois after 150 years of absence

29 March 2012 | Article
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A chamois reintroduction program carried out by the Nature and Man Foundation (FNYH), an IUCN Member since 1997, led to a birth increase of 47% compared to 2010.

The last chamois census undertaken by Nature and Man Foundation (FNYH) detected 28 baby chamois, representing an increase of 47% in births as compared to 2010. This is a breakthrough towards the consolidation of this species in the Cantabrian Mountains in the North of Spain. With these births the number of ibex that live in the area exceeds one hundred and now stands at 105 individuals.

The FNYH has since 2002 worked for the reintroduction and conservation of the Cantabrian Chamois on the Riaño Mountain where the species became extinct 150 years ago. The project was initially framed in the LIFE-Nature Restoration and conservation of biodiversity in the Ason River Basin (2002-2005), promoted by FNYH and funded by the European Commission, and continues today with monitoring of the species. The population has formed four geographical groups in an area of ​​1,300 hectares in the provinces of Cantabria and Burgos, with 28 young individuals and 77 adults.

The disappearance of the chamois of the Alto Ason area began in the eighteenth century due to habitat destruction caused by massive felling of trees for shipbuilding and hunting pressure. The species was unable to adapt. The last chamois recorded on the Riaño Mountain Lanchares dates from 1845. Today, ecosystem pressures have declined and it has become possible to start the reintroduction.

The work of the FNYH for the reintroduction of chamois has been recognized nationally and internationally and is being nominated for the “Top Ten Ideas to Save Nature” by the journal Nature RedLife. The magazine LIFE Nature by the European Commission has highlighted the FNYH initiative in an issue dedicated to the prevention of the extinction of species (page 15).

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