Snowshoeing is the best way to track wildlife in the snowy mountains! So come and join us as we embark on an adventure to study deer and chamois populations in the Swiss Alps as well as the top predator: the lynx!
Did you know that the top predator, the lynx, is currently returning to the Alps? The presence of their main prey (deer and hares) and the improvement of their habitat have accompanied their return. Do we know how the lynx population is spread across the mountains? Or how the lynx was able to return to its ecosystem?
To answer these questions, we invite you to the “Tailing the Lynx” camp in the Simmental Valley in Switzerland
Switzerland Every year the NGO Objectif Sciences International offers several science camps in Valais, Switzerland, on different themes (fauna & flora, architecture, palaeontology, geology, drones...) You will find, at the following link, more information about our nature camps. . We’ll go snowshoeing and track wildlife, like hares and lynx, to assess the state of their populations. Therefore in subsequent years, we’ll be able to study changes in the lynx population and its establishment in the valley.
Prepare yourself for an investigation in the heart of the snowy mountains, where our snowshoes will take us off the beaten path to find tracks, leftover food, fur, droppings and other clues that indicate where wild animals have roamed. There’s so many mysteries to solve! What creatures passed by? How many were there? What were they doing? You’ll truly become a tracker!
But we won’t forget to observe the animals themselves! Equipped with telescopes and binoculars during our morning lookout walks, we’ll spot some magnificent creatures like deer, foxes, hares and ermines!
- © OSI
The research project
The main objective of this research project is to take a census of prey populations (deer and hares) and other fauna (roe deer, chamois, etc.) so we can track the lynx population in our sector of study, which is located above our accommodations in the mountain. Why? To participate in the OSI BIODIVERSITA research program on the presence and development of the lynx population in the Simmental Valley. Since lynxes live in the region, their full return to the valley must be accompanied by a study of their habitat and prey. With this winter data, we can evaluate the growth and distribution of the lynx population.
We’ll combine that data with data collected in the summer during our trips to Lenk, so we can compare and evaluate habitat sectors’ suitability for lynx.
We’ll develop efficient wildlife observation methods that are tailored to motivated beginners. We know little about the biodiversity around us because there are few specialists in this area. That’s why developing citizen-led biodiversity studies is so important! If more people know how to study biodiversity, nature will be all the better for it!
- © OSI : Wikipédia/Harald Olsen, OSI, Wikipédia/Steven Hint, Wikipédia/Martin Mecnarowski
At 1,068 m of altitude, the mountain village of Lenk is in the Simmental Valley in the Swiss Alps. It’s at the foot of the Wildstrubel massif, home of the Plainte Morte glacier. With summits reaching nearly 3,000 m of altitude, you’re guaranteed a thick blanket of snow all winter long.
Several springs, called the "seven fountains,” gush from the rocks and flow into the river Simme below the Plaine Morte glacier on the Rezlialp. These sulfurous springs are renowned for their effects on rheumatism and respiratory illnesses. It’s why the hotsprings are so famous!
It’s picturesque year-round. Whether you’re gazing out the window or going on a stroll, the lakes, mountain passes, summits, and pastures take your breath away.
The Simmental Valley offers extraordinary views and a welcoming atmosphere.
During the winter, 50 ski lifts and 185 km of trails are open in the ski areas around Lenk im Simmental. The Metsch gondola lift traverses the entire Adelboden-Lenk ski resort, which contains mostly easy courses, but also features medium-difficulty trails, carving tracks, snowboarding parks, and a permanent racing course.
That’s right: parents can go skiing during the winter trips, twice even!
During the summer, you’ll find 600 km of hiking trails in the valley, including a groundhog- and lynx-spotting trail, a “Zen” trail, and the alpine flower trail, which boasts ninety-five different species.
Lenk was certified “family-friendly” thanks to its family-oriented activities, not to mention the Lenkerhof Alpine Resort’s hotsprings that visitors can enjoy.
Day to day proceedings
Trackers aren’t supposed to spot animals from behind a chimney! We’ll spend as much time as possible in the great outdoors searching, finding, identifying, and counting tracks and clues left by wildlife! With our footwear, warm clothing, backpacks, field notepads, binoculars, and GPSs, we’ll be on the hunt in the wilderness!
On a hunt for what, you may ask? We’ll awaken our curiosity and use our five senses to find tracks and fur in the snow, leftover meals, and anything else left behind by animals! Then we’ll formulate methods to try to quantify our observations and estimate the population of each species.
Don’t worry if there’s no or not enough snow! There’s lots of stuff to do, even without snowshoes!
If the weather isn’t great, we’ll still have lots to do in the BIONIL (our super Biodiversitas Natural Identification Laboratory): classifying our samples, confirming our identifications using the extensive naturalist library, mapping our discoveries, etc. We’ll also analyze our collected data and assess the status of our project to better target our research in the future.
Even trackers need to relax. Extrascientific activities are scheduled throughout the day, like outdoor games, soirées, educational and athletic workshops, and of course, a warm cup of hot chocolate to top it all off!
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When we go on outings with campers from “Skiing and Snowflakes” we’ll climb up the ski trails in search of snow crystals and adventure!
We may also join the “Star Finders” astronomy camp and observe numerous stars and constellations.
New Year’s Party
As we should, we’ll celebrate the New Year during camps that take place at the end of December.
At midnight on December 31, the fireworks that blanket the valley create a magical atmosphere. For the occasion, we’ll be making Swedish fire torches in the snow. We’ll have lots of other surprises too!
Sylvain Allombert is the scientific and technical director of the “Biodiversita” research program and the “Alps Tracker” camps. While writing his dissertation on ecology in France and Canada, he discovered his calling: popularizing scientific knowledge about biodiversity. He developed his popularization skills in an organization where he worked with all kinds of people, from young children to professionals.
He’s a general naturalist, and has worked as an ornithologist, entomologist, and ecologist. He’s also dabbled in other subjects, like plants, mammals, reptiles, and amphibians.
During this camp, Sylvain will organize scientific activities. He’ll also be the special advisor for “birds” and “animal tracks” for our budding researchers! His extensive knowledge of the natural world will definitely satisfy participants’ curiosity!
- Lenk im Simmental
We’ll stay at the Kuspo Center in the Simmental Valley. It’s only 1 km from the village of Lenk, and close to footpaths that lead to ski courses in the winter and hiking trails in the summer. Since we’ll be only a few minutes’ walking distance from the trails, we’ll reduce our carbon footprint. A bus regularly travels to the Lenk station, allowing us to easily access the village’s services.
The Kuspo Center features three modern chalets that can house up to 450 people. We can stay in spacious rooms with bedding and Nordic duvets for two, four, twelve, or sixteen people. Each chalet contains large offices and rooms to hold our activities and store our skis.
Diverse, delicious buffets are served in the dining room. The dining areas can also be used as gathering places for organized activities in the evening. Halls and athletic areas are available around the center, and there’s also a game room and a large terrace, where you can relax in the sun. We’ll immerse ourselves in Swiss culture in the warm, family atmosphere of this magnificent valley.
To reach the center, you can:
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