Chamois Hunting New Zealand
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Chordata
- Class: Mammalia
- Order: Artiodactyla
- Suborder: Ruminantia
- Family: Bovidae
- Genus: Rupicapra
- Species: R. rupicapra
Chamois arrived in New Zealand in 1907 as a gift from the Austrian Emperor, Franz Joseph. The first surviving releases were made in the Aoraki/Mount Cook region and these animals gradually spread over much of the South Island. They are often referred to colloquially as "Chamy" (pronounced "shamy").
In New Zealand, hunting Chamois is unrestricted and even encouraged by the New Zealand government's Department of Conservation, to limit the impact they have on New Zealand's native alpine flora.
The short, smooth summer coat is overall tawny or reddish-brown, while in winter it becomes a chocolate brown, with guard hairs measuring 10-20 cm / 4-8 inches long covering a wooly underlayer. The under parts are pale. The legs are usually darker, and there is a slight mane on the throat. The jaw, cheeks, and nose-bridge are strikingly white, and there is a black stripe running from the eye to the muzzle. The slender, black horns are found in both sexes. Rising vertically from the forehead, they are sharply curved backwards on their top third like hooks, and can reach a length of 32 cm / 12.8 inches.
As a mountain dweller, the chamois is excellently adapted to living in rugged, rocky terrain. Its climbing abilities are only surpassed by the Alpine Ibex. A fully grown chamois reaches a height of about 75 cm (2.5 feet) and weighs about 50 kg (110 lb).
Both males and females have short horns which are slightly curled backwards. In summer, the chamois' fur has a rich brown colour which turns to a light grey in winter. Distinct characteristics are a white face with pronounced black stripes below the eyes, a white backside and a black dorsal strip. Chamois can reach an age of up to 20 years.
Chamois Mating and Reproduction
- Gestation Period: 170 days
- Young per Birth: 1, rarely 2
- Weaning: After 6 months.
- Sexual Maturity: Females at 2.5 years, males at 3.5-4 years
- Life span: 14-22 years
Female chamois and their kids live in herds; grown-up males tend to live solitary for most of the year. During rut season (late November/early December in Europe, May in New Zealand), males seek out female herds and engage in fierce fights with each other.
After a gestation period of 20 weeks, a single kid is born. The kid is fully grown at an age of three years. It is rumored that in farming areas, male chamois will occasionally mate with goats and produce sterile hybrids, but no such event has ever been scientifically recorded.