European wildlife: Muskoxen (Ovibos moschatus) sparring, Dovrefjell National Park, Norway

March 15, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

European wildlife: Muskoxen (Ovibos moschatus) sparring, Dovrefjell National Park, Norway.

We spent almost all of our time with a group of 15 male muskoxen. This was a relatively large group; normally a bull group is much smaller (3-5 individuals). As a result there was more sparring (fighting) than usual. It was not mating season, but it appears that the bulls establish and confirm dominance throughout the year.

One day we lucked out; the sparring took place on a ridge of a snowfield with snow covered mountains in the background with snow flying. This was our dream scenario... active animals with nothing but a white background! I slowed the shutter speed down on purpose to emphasize the blowing snow.

Click here to view more images of muskoxen.

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Muskoxen (Ovibos moschatus) sparring, Dovrefjell National Park, NorwayMuskoxen (Ovibos moschatus) sparring, Dovrefjell National Park, NorwayMuskoxen (Ovibos moschatus) sparring, Dovrefjell National Park, Norway. Muskoxen evolved in Asia and adapted to arctic tundra environments. Muskoxen became extinct in Europe (last records are from Sweden about 9,000 years ago) and Asia (last records are from the Taymyr peninsula in Russia about 2,000 years ago), probably primarily as a result of over hunting by people. Muskoxen crossed into North America from Siberia between 200,000 and 90,000 years ago and they survived in Alaska, northern Canada and Greenland. Muskoxen were reintroduced in Europe and Asia relatively recently. Muskoxen were first reintroduced in Dovrefjell National Park in Norway in 1931-1932, but these animals were all killed during the second world war. A second reintroduction attempt (1947-1953) was successful though. The muskoxen population size in Dovrefjell National Park is currently estimated at several hundred individuals.


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