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The Tatran ibex

THE INSCRIPTION on the reverse side of this postcard tells us that this magnificent animal is a Tatran Ibex. But that must be wrong: ibexes do not live in the Tatras, and they never did. Or did they?

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THE INSCRIPTION on the reverse side of this postcard tells us that this magnificent animal is a Tatran Ibex. But that must be wrong: ibexes do not live in the Tatras, and they never did. Or did they?

Prussian Earl Hohenlohe bought large estates in this area at the end of the 19th century. He closed them off to the public, barred tourists and turned the vast territory of Tatran wildlife into hunting grounds for himself and invited guests.

Hunting was not unheard of in the Tatras before, but what Hohenlohe created was a shooting gallery. He personally shot over a thousand chamois, almost killing them off.

He had animals from all over the world brought to the Tatras. The area soon became a habitat for American buffalo, European bison, American and Altai deer, mountain goats and Alpine and Sinai ibexes.

The high society members that Hohenlohe invited over to hunt were well served for a while, but then the imported animals gradually died out and some ended up in zoos.

The ibex on the card probably has nothing to do with this peculiar story. More likely, it is simply testimony to the ignorance or whimsy of the postcard's Czech publishers.


By Branislav Chovan,
Special to the Spectator

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