Every day, David set out to find the lone male ibex that had arrived in the valley. This time he spotted it sheltering on a precipitous ledge, beneath an overhang. With quiet endurance, the ibex almost disappeared against the fabric of metamorphic rock, save for the snow on its back and head, and its eye, glimpsed between the flakes.
Stately in its thick winter coat, with imposing backward-curved horns, the Alpine ibex is emblematic of Italy’s Gran Paradiso National Park. Threatened with extinction more than 100 years ago, ibex have returned across Europe, thanks to conservation efforts. Recent data, however, suggest numbers are going down again, and we don’t yet know why.
Canon EOS-1D X; 100–400mm f4.5–5.6 lens at 176mm; 1/320 sec at f6.3; ISO 800.
Valsavarenche, Gran Paradiso National Park, Italy
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David Pattyn, Belgium
David has always had a passion for wildlife and often travels with his wife and two sons in search of it. As a photographer he mainly focuses on subjects for long periods - he believes this results in better images. In the past he has completed projects on grebes, pelicans and, in recent years, the Alps.