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Ibexes at the Benediktenwand


Ibexes at the Benediktenwand

Ibexes in Bavaria - on shaky legs?

Actually the ibexes pertain to the Central Alps. But in the (19)sixties a lonesome ibex which had lost its way became the progenitor of a flock of bavarian ibexes. Three nanny-goats had been flown in from St.Gallen/Switzerland solely for it. Today the population at the Benediktenwand counts about 70 animals.

Haunted by mankind

During the last ice age ibexes had been common at the lowland. 17.000 years old rock-drawings in the famous Lascaux-cave in France are witnesses. First after the melting of the glaciers the animals withdraw to the high mountains of the Central Alps. Here the predaceous animals rarely had chances against the high-skilled climbers. Only mankind again and again had persecuted these animals. In the middle ages they assumed supernatural power with the ibexes because of their climbing arts. Additional in the noble circles the breakneck hunting in steep walls was considered proof of boldness and skill.

Almost exterminated

The hunting of ibexes became a real threat with the spread of gunpowder during the 15. century. Highly wanted by medical science, as a trophy or a festival roast three centuries later the last ibex of the Alps had been almost disappeared for ever. But the italien king Vittorio-Emanuele realized the danger. He made the hardcore poachers to well paid gamekeepers and so saved some dozens animals at Gran Paradiso. Any again coloniced animals since 1911 descend from this little herd.

Successful Comeback

Today they calculate the total at the entire Alps region to abaout 80.000 animals. Inspite of genetic risks a successful renaturalization. Ibexes seem to be tolerant to inbreeding. At least there are no troubles with interference of fertility. The four bavarian ibex colonies also have not to count with negative consequences of inbreeding. But the rate of growth of the some hundred animals is considerably smaller than with their consanguinity at the Central Alps. The agreeable consequence: Rarely will they be hunted and so they are very gentle.

Bild: Erinnerungstafel

Useful Assistants

At the Benediktenwand they are actually useful. The area round the Probstalm, some hundred meters below the summits, is especially worth to be protected because of its flora. The ibexes browse the meadows and so act against the spreading of bushes. Nevertheless none of the four bavarian ibex colonies are permanently safe, following the meaning of experts.

This hand-carved memory at the wall of the hut reminds on the exposure of the first animals at the Benediktenwand

Actually bavarian winter times are too cold

Ibexes are suited to dry regions. Therefore they live best in the high steep Central Alps where there are southern slopes which are warmed by the sun in wintertime. At the Benediktenwand the ibexes during the last years had had luck because of little amount of snow. And since it seems that the climate will be warmer the bavarian regions will be still more friendly for ibexes. But with a serie of hard wintertimes the ibexes could not survive.

Happily predaceous animals are missing

Ibex populations like the bavarians which are small and near the woods are only able to survive where are no predaceous animals. But a renaturalization of wolfs or lynxes at Upper Bavaria this time is not to be seen. Actually it looks not bad for the bavarian ibexes.

photo: Uwe Schumacher (former Hut assistant Tutzinger Hütte)