Encounters between Alpine ibex, Alpine chamois and domestic sheep in the Swiss Alps
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Centre for Fish and Wildlife Health, Institute of Animal Pathology, University of Berne
Ethology and Nature Conservation Group, Institute of Zoology, University of Berne
Publication date: 2002-12-20
Hystrix It. J. Mamm. 2002;13(1-2)
Abstract Information regarding spatio-temporal relationships and encounters of sympatric domestic sheep, Alpine ibex (Capra ibex ibex) and Alpine chamois (Rupicapra rupicapra rupicapra) in the Swiss Alps were systematically registered to evaluate the possibility of an interspecific transmission of infectious agents on pastures. Observations were performed in alpine regions of four Swiss cantons during the 1997 and 1998 mountain summer grazing season. In the main study area, Val Chamuera (canton of Grisons), a consistent reduction in the number of ibexes was observed after the arrival of sheep on the pasture. Some ibexes remained for a longer time in the area, but in general, ibexes and sheep did not use the same compartments of the area simultaneously. However, a salt lick for sheep attracted the ibexes, and several encounters were recorded in the compartments close to this salt lick. Several encounters registered in other areas of the Swiss Alps also occurred in the neighbourhood of a salt lick; however, in other cases different species were attracted by rich pastures. The study indicates that encounters (0-50 m) between free-ranging individuals of different Caprinae species, domestic and wild, are not uncommon events in the Alps. Therefore, encounters can be considered to be a predisposing factor for interspecific transmission of infectious agents such as Mycoplasma conjunctivae, causing keratoconjunctivitis in chamois, ibex, domestic sheep and goats.
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