Rupicapra II - Conservation of Rupicapra pyrenaica ornata in the Central Apennines

LIFE02 NAT/IT/008538

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Contact details:

Project Manager: Dario FEBBO
Tel: +39 86 260521
Fax: +39 086 2606675
Email: ente@gransassolagapark.it

Project description:


This project links four national parks in Italy: Gran Sasso and Monti della Laga; Abruzzo; Mejella; and Mount Sibillini. All four parks contain expanses of mountain range, which provide natural flora and fauna of outstanding value. This project, however, focuses on one distinct sub-species found in the central Apennines: the Abruzzo chamois (Rupicapra pyrenaica ornate). The numbers of this sub-species fell to only around 40 individuals within the confines of the Abruzzo National Park in the 1920s. It was the only Italian species included in the 1996 red-list of mammals in danger of extinction by the IUCN (International Union of Conservation of Nature) and was included in the Habitat Directive in 1992. To encourage chamois population growth, individuals were reintroduced into the Majella and the Gran Sasso e Monti della Laga National Parks in the 1990s.These measures generated some success. By the start of this project, the Abruzzo chamois population was estimated at around 500 in the Abruzzo National Park, 95 in Gran Sasso and 90 in Majella. However the sub-species is still threatened. Not only are numbers still relatively low, but the populations have poor genetic diversity since they are all descended from only around 40 individuals in the 1920s. Other threats include competition with domestic cattle for grazing lands, diseases transmitted by such cattle, the impact of tourism and the risks of poaching and stray dogs.


The project aimed to build on a previous LIFE-Nature project run by the beneficiary in the Gran Sasso e Monti della Laga National Park. This had resulted in the release of a number of Abruzzo chamois into the wild, their monitoring and the establishment of conditions favourable to the long-term survival of the sub-species. The aim of the new project was to continue the conservation and development of the populations reintroduced on the Gran Sasso and Majella mountain peaks and to make the necessary preparations for reintroducing the chamois into the Monti Sibillini National Park. A key plan was the development of a captive breeding programme to produce individuals to be either reintroduced into the wild in the Gran Sasso and Majella parks and to form part of a core group to be kept in captivity – initially - in the Monti Sibillini National Park. Environmental suitability plans and a health emergency management plan were foreseen. Particular attention was envisaged for genetic screening to increase the gene pool within groups of chamois. In addition, steps were planned to mitigate competition with domestic cattle and the damaging impact of tourism. The project plans made provision for awareness campaigns targeting the local population and owners of domestic cattle.


The project successfully developed a comprehensive management strategy to promote the numbers of healthy, Abruzzo chamois. At the heart of the strategy were improved monitoring activities that enabled the identification of the proper conservation measures to be adopted for the Rupicapra and an operational network of the major stakeholders. As a result, numbers of the animal increased significantly and the Italian Ministry of Environment launched a specific programme for its conservation. The team looked at the impact of tourism, livestock, poachers and stray dogs on the chamois. Measures were taken to reduce these threats, including the closure of certain paths that previously resulted in human disturbance to the animals. Livestock owners were targeted to develop mutual practices that minimised conflict between the two animal groups. Increased health monitoring and genetic screening improved the captive breeding programme. Not only was it assured that healthy animals were breeding, but that breeding and subsequent distribution of the animals could be planned to promote maximum genetic diversity amongst the different populations. A particularly important step for the future sustainability of the population was the development of a health emergencies programme. This provides the structure and organisation to allow a rapid intervention in the event of an epidemic or serious health problem of any kind being spotted by the continuing monitoring activities. Separate measures planned by each National Park and the Italian government’s conservation programme are further indications of the likely sustainability of the project’s work. Information about the project and its environmental aims were targeted at schools, tourists, local stakeholders and an international audience. This included the organisation of seminars, training courses and an international technical convention, contacts with the media, a website and the publication and use of leaflets, posters and panels. The demonstration value of the project is suggested by the use of the experiences acquired in the Gran Sasso National Park to successfully train staff of the Majella National Park.


Environmental issues addressed:


Species - Mammals


protected area‚  management plan‚  mountainous area

Target species

 Rupicapra pyrenaica ornata     

Natura 2000 sites

SPA IT7110128 Parco Nazionale Gran Sasso - Monti della Laga



Coordinator Ente Parco Nazionale del Gran Sasso e Monti della Laga
Type of organisation Park-Reserve authority
Description Ente Parco Nazionale del Gran Sasso e Monti della Laga is the body responsible for the management of the Gran Sasso and Monti della Laga National Park, which covers 150,000 hectares, three regions and 44 municipalities in Italy.


Project reference LIFE02 NAT/IT/008538
Duration 01-APR-2002 to 31-MAR -2005
Total budget 1,203,750.00 €
EU contribution 601,875.00 €
Project location Abruzzo(Italia)


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Project web site Project website


Project description   Environmental issues   Beneficiaries   Administrative data   Read more   Print   PDF version