Not only holiday visitors and locals are fascinated by the mountaineering village Pontresina – ibex equally appreciate the place. Situated in an idyllic location in an Engadine side valley, Pontresina comes up trumps with its southward-exposed flanks and the steep pastures that far go up into the rocks. In short, an ideal habitat for the largest ibex colony in Switzerland. "A lot of sun, plenty of food and snowless pastures are crucial for their survival, especially in winter," explains the Pontresinian gamekeeper Daniel Godli. The Ibex expert knows exactly where to find the animals and what makes them tick.
Gamekeeper and Pontresinian nature lover
Daniel Godli has been working as a gamekeeper in Pontresina for over 30 years. The nature lover has been active as mountain guide and skiing instructor in the past. He is living in Pontresina.
To Me, Pontresina is the Ibex Village
It’s easy to meet those kings of the mountains: “You see ibex in Pontresina pretty much year-round. In winter and spring you can even see them from the village,” Godli explains. No later than June they are gone, though and can only be found on the higher plains of the Alp Languard. Even though the animals are not very shy, you should not leave the marked trails. "Respect their peace and keep a distance," Godli recommends. There are always people, who dare to venture way too close to take a photo of the ibex – a definite no-go for Godli.
It puts Godli in a pensive mood when his ibex are affected by diseases such as mycoplasmosis. This disease is highly contagious and untreatable within a wildlife population. Permanently blind animals are incapable of surviving: they either starve or fall to their death. "Many animals recover after a few weeks, though," Godli says, relieved. Sick animals often walk around aimlessly or in circles and show no fear. If you see affected animals, you should report them to the gamekeeper and leave them alone, because they might fall to their death while trying to escape.
Currently the colony is well. Godli even named some of the ibex: Gian and Giachen, for example, the well-known “advertising ibex” from the TV commercials of Grisons Tourism. They are two ibex Godli has captured for research purposes, tagged, and released again. "There is so much more to know about ibex. If you want to know more, just pay a visit to Pontresina,” Godli says with a wink.