Gran Paradiso National Park owes its foundation to King Vittorio Emanuele II, who donated his extensive hunting park to the state in 1922, ensuring that the population of ibex that he and his hunters had reduced to near extinction would, after all, survive. There are now around 3500 ibex here and about 6000 chamois, living most of the year above the tree line but descending to the valleys in winter and spring. The most dramatic sightings are during the mating season in November and December, when you may see pairs of males fighting it out for possession of a female. You might also spy golden eagles nesting, and there are a number of rare Alpine flowers, most of which can be seen in the botanical garden in the Val di Cogne.

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