As if chamois don't have enough threats -- hunting, poaching and habitat loss -- they also face the impending doom of avalanches.
French spectators recently caught this dramatic scene of chamois escaping an avalanche in the Rhône-Alpes region of France, The Telegraph reported. As a snowslide barrels down the mountain, the herd looks as confused and spooked as ever. The group splits, with five members safely running to freedom while the others run back into the avalanche. But just when all hope is lost, they appear as little black ants out of the churning white mass and just barely reconnect with the herd.
Chamois live in alpine and sub-alpine meadows at altitudes of 1,300 to 9,000 feet throughout mountains of south-central Europe and Asia Minor, and have also been introduced to Argentina and New Zealand. Chamois can run at about 30 miles per hour and jump nearly seven feet in the air. They're defined by long, slender horns that rise above the head and hook backwards, and are related to sheep, goats and antelope.
The European population tallies around 400,000 individuals and the species as a whole is considered to be of "Least Concern" by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, but a few subspecies are declining in Europe. Threats generally vary by subpopulation and depend on region, but include skin disease, a lack of genetic variability and human expansion. Chamois are hunted recreationally and socially, but are also hunted economically their for skin, which is used for "shammy" leather, and their back hair is used for Tyrolean hats. The IUCN says that their hunting is largely sustainable.