I’m Bec (the Ibex in the dialect of these valleys), the “Prince of Gran Paradiso”.
In few words I wish to tale you in what a wonderful place I use to live and that you will discover next 30th July running near the sky the Royal Ultra Sky Marathon Gran Paradiso. Needless to say this place is called Parco Nazionale Gran Paradiso !
For people coming from further away and do not know these places (and I know that it’s a large number of you) I wish to tell that we are in the Alps mountains and particularly in the north-western part of Italy. Here are the highest mountains of Italy and Europe, first of all Monte Bianco (4810 mt). Among these peaks there is also Gran Paradiso (4061 mt) which is the highest mountain completely in the Italian territory, where is Parco Nazionale Gran Paradiso, the first born park in Italy.
It’s in someway strange that the Parco Nazionele Gran Paradiso was born from the passion of the kings of Italy for hunting the ibex (!), Yes, during the XIX century people of mountain valleys hunted the ibex, and generally all the game, for need of food. Therefore some species, including us, were about to become extint.
King Vittorio Emanuele II, the first King of Italy, was very passionate to hunting (as usual in that period), but he loved the simple life in the mountains, too.
In 1856 he declared the Royal Hunting Natural Reserve the mountains of Gran Paradiso.
To simplify his hunting trips (in Italian translated as “hunting beating” since the king’s servants beated two sticks together to make ibex run in direction where the king stationed to hunt) the king commissioned to the local people to build the extraordinary network of Royal Hunting Paths of Gran Paradiso: 300 km of high altitude trails (nowadays used by the hikers and where the Royal race is run) that the king rode on horseback together with all his servants staff, reaching peaks over the 3000 mt altitude, where he could hunt us (poor …), the ibex.
So, since only the king was hunting us, we started again to growing in number.
In 1919 King Vittorio Emanuele III (the niece of King Vittorio Emanuele II) declared to be ready to offer to the Italian State the 2100 hectares of the Royal Hunting Natural Reserve, under condition to create a national park (what an amazing idea!).
On 3rd December 1922 the Parco Nazionale Gran Paradiso was established, the first Italian National Park.
Just over 100 years have passed since that historic date: a lot of path and work has been done, and now the Park is part of the élite 23 world ones included in the Green List of International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
Now here we are well, protected, many of us have emigrated in other mountains to repopulate those areas.
But we are not alone: the Parco Nazionale Gran Paradiso is true wild nature of the high alpine peaks, therefore in the next episode I will tale you the wonderful and noble nature of Gran Paradiso.