T.E.R:R.A.I.N - Taranaki Educational Resource: Research, Analysis and Information Network


Chamois (Rupicapra rupicapra)

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Artiodactyla
Family: Bovidae
Subfamily: Caprinae
Genus: Rupicapra
Species: R. rupicapra
Binomial name: Rupicapra rupicapra
Common name: Chamois, Alpine chamois

Rupicapra rupicapra is a species of goat-antelope native to mountains in Europe, including the European Alps, the Pyrenees, the Carpathians, the Tatra Mountains, the Balkans, parts of Turkey, the Caucasus, and the Apennines.
Alpine chamois arrived in New Zealand in 1907 as a gift from the Austrian Emperor, Franz Joseph I in exchange for specimens of living ferns, rare birds and lizards. Mr Albert E.L. Bertling, formerly head keeper of the Zoological Society's Gardens, Regents Park, London, accepted an invitation from the New Zealand Government to deliver a consignment of chamois (two bucks and six does) to the colony. They arrived in Wellington, New Zealand, on the 23rd January 1907, on board the "SS Turakina". From Wellington, the chamois were transhipped to the "Manaroa" and conveyed to Lyttelton, then by rail to Fairlie in South Canterbury and a four-day horse trek to Mount Cook. The first surviving releases were made in the Aoraki/Mount Cook region and these animals gradually spread over much of the high country in the South Island. A later introduction was made in 1914 when three tame chamois were shipped to New Zealand from Austria. One died on the voyage out and the remaining two were liberated in the Mount Cook region.
Nowadays they are widespread throughout the high country in the South Island in a wide range of sub/alpine habitats. They are most abundant within 300m of treelines. At present they are colonising the north-west of Nelson. They are absent from the North Island. They are usually considered an alpine species in New Zealand, but they also occur in forests in areas such as Westland. 
They are herbivorous, mainly feeding on grasses and woody plants, including, Poa spp., Agrostis spp., Poa spp., Astelia spp., Carmichaelia spp., Chionochloa spp., Coprosma spp., Griselinia spp., Ranunculus spp., Melicytus spp. and Weinmannia spp.
They are now classed as an animal pest in New Zealand, and chamois hunting is unrestricted and even encouraged by the Department of Conservation to limit the animal's impact on New Zealand's native alpine flora.

Rupicapra rupicapra has a similar body size to goat but with longer legs, neck and larger hooves, a more erect neck, pointed ears, and differ in shape and curvature of the horns. Adult males have a shoulder height of >1 m and do not often weigh over 45 kg. Adult females seldom exceed 36 kg. 
The overall colour of the coat varies seasonally, and there is considerable variation between individuals. Males have a thicker winter coat the tends to be brown to almost black, becoming a brownish fawn in summer. A dark strip extends along the mid-line of the back from the neck to the base of the tail. The ventral surface and hindquarters in summer become almost white. The head is a pale fawn in colour with a dark band beginning near the nose, surrounding the eyes and ending at the base of the horns and ears. Males also have a distinct dark, urine-stained pizzle area.

 

Distribution map of Chamois (Pink area)


Thanks to Wikipedia for text and information: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/

 


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