Thursday, April 18, 2013

Ax les Thermes Mountain Film Festival

The 6th Explos Mountain and Adventure film festival is being held in Ax les Thermes 6th - 12th May at the Casino d'Ax.

The best day looks like Thursday 9th May when the films are all about the Pyrenees. I am looking forward to Traversée des Pyrenees about crossing the chain from sea to ocean........on skis! The film about the Dodtour crossing the Pyrenees also looks great.

The Dodtour was completed by Lionel Daudet and involved him walking, paragliding and canoeing around the extremities of France - along the borders with other countries and the coastline.1 year, 5000km and 1000 summits!!

Here are Daudets photos of his journey along the Pyrenees and the French/Spanish border. 

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Ibex (Re)Introduction

The Ibex is a large, stocky member of the goat family. The males are bigger than the females (weighing up to 90 kilos) and are recognisable by their impressive curved horns. 


The Ibex is represented in ancient Pyrenean cave art.

Ibex cave painting Niaux Cave, Ariege, Eastern Pyrenees

Images of the Ibex can also be found  in the 14th century Book of the Hunt by Gaston Fébus.

Ibex hunt from the Book of the Hunt - Gaston Fébus (15th Century)

To see the animal for real in the Pyrenees in 2013 is impossible. The animal disappeared from the French side of the chain in 1910 and the Spanish side in 2000. This was in large part due to overhunting althought the final animal in the Spanish Ordesa National Park was killed by a falling tree.

A project does exist to reintroduce this magnificent animal. The French want to start with introducing 20 male and female Ibex in the Haute Pyrenees and as many in the Ariege region with a long term aim of 160 releases along the entire chain over the coming years. The French will buy the animals from Spain where breeding populations exist away from the Pyrenees.

The first phase of the reintroduction programme was meant to take place in the spring of 2013 but unfortunately it is taking longer than planned. Things are being held up by the Spanish Agricultural Minister who has failed to sign the agreement and give the official go ahead. The timing of the first releases have been put back to the autumn.

Whereas the reintroduction of the brown bear has divided the population in the Pyrenees, the return of the Ibex is generally well supported. There have been several successful reintroduction in the Pyrenees in the past including the marmot and mouflon.