Its true that quite a lot of us cant wait for the year to come around so that we can spend some quality time with friends and family skiing the slopes of the three valleys and beyond. We spend so much time in nature in that one-week (and those who are lucky that little bit longer) but do you ever think about whom we share the mountains with?
According to Alparc.com
“Approximately 30,000 animal species have been identified in the Alps”
This is a huge amount of wildlife that we share the slopes with, and in which they call their home. The amount of diversity here is amazing!
Have you ever noticed Vanoise Natural Park on your Three Vallees map?
Vanois National Park is the largest and most popular reserve in the French Alps, the Vanoise is home to over 2000 Ibex, Chamois, Marmots, Golden eagles, Lammergeiers, Wall Creepers and 120 other varieties of bird.
- 2000 ibex; the largest population in France making up a third of the total national population
- 5500 chamois
- 120 different species of breeding birds
- 20 pairs of resident golden eagles
- The park’s insects represent over 80% of the insects to be found in the whole of France
Below are some examples of the larger wildlife you may experience on the slopes – but also do not forget to look into the much smaller wildlife such as snow voles, alpine newts, red foxes and various bugs – we do think it would be a great place to revisit in the spring/summer months when there is less tourist congestion!
Known as bouquetins in French, these fine mountain ibex have recolonised parts of the French Alps, partly naturally from Italy, partly through reintroduction. Today there are about 9000 of them, mostly living in the higher parts of the Alps, and especially in the Vanoise National Park.
Even noticed footprints in the snow? Well these could belong to the Chamois. This animal is a symbol of the Alps. Chamois can be found across other areas of France. They live at high altitudes and are confident rock climbers.
Marmots, are another symbol of the Alps. Marmots live at altitudes between 1000-3000 meters and live in family groups underground. According to Vanoise Park website – They make a peculiar high pitched whistling noise and like to sunbathe! They are also spotted mainly by hikers and climbers but can still be a hard one to spot!
Rhone Alps raptors
The Rhone Alps is a huge region and is home to many raptors – some of which include Golden eagle, Osprey, various falcon and owl species.
According to Wildlife.com
The wide variety of raptors resident here is as a result of the wide abundance of their natural prey. Some species are locally common, yet rare in much of their range, like the Boreal owl and Bonelli’s Eagle.
Vanoise Park Conservation
Species rehabilitation is one of the aims of the park and it is a haven for rare and protected creatures. Ibex numbers have increased literally tenfold, from 200 to 2000 since the creation of the park. The black grouse is another species that the park is trying hard to preserve as it is in real danger of extinction; the rangers monitor habitats and record numbers and are keen to inform and educate visitors to the park about their work. Their research into the wildlife of the park regularly leads to the discovery of new species, and provides a valuable service to the preservation of alpine fauna.
The isolated summits provide a perfect habitat for golden eagles and the extremely rare bearded vulture is a regular visitor; the park rangers are hopeful that a breeding pair may make the park their home before too long. In fact, if you are a dedicated birdwatcher, a keen conservationist or just someone who likes to spot a bit of wildlife when they are rambling along the Vanoise National Park is definitely a good place to start.
Its great knowing that you can enjoy yourself on the slopes but take a moment to think about the wildlife that surrounds you. Both summer and winter tourism has changed the shape of the Alps in the last decade – with the expansion of roads, hotels, lifts etc. This like any expansion can put a strain on ecosystems. So just make sure when you are taking it all in remember nature is our provider!