One Species not to get your goat!

Dan Brown

Arguably one of the WPs most impressive mammals in an equally impressive landscape: Musk Ox in Norway is a MUST for anyone into mammals

 

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It may be just a goat, but it’s a damn big goat, in fact the biggest in the world! At up to 2.5m in length and nearly half a ton in weight Musk Ox is an awe-inspiring beast. A massive shaggy bovid inhabiting some of the most brutal, but also beautiful landscapes in the world, yet this Arctic and sub-arctic dwelling monster is only a short flight away from the UK and actually remarkably easy to see (though we may have been lucky). Musk Ox became extinct in the Western Palearctic some 3000 to 4000 years ago but was successfully reintroduced from East-Greenland in 1932 into the massif. Their population appears to be stable.

Dovrefjell in Norway is a massif of intimidating mountains surrounded by tundra. Herds of Reindeer graze the lichen, Ptarmigan hunker down into the stunted heather, Rough-legged Buzzards hunt for Mountain Hares, Bluethroats sing from every flush, and most of the landscape appears out of bounds for the lay person; a perfect environment for Musk Ox.

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A flight to Oslo from Stansted is only an hour and a half, and a drive north a few hours, or you can continue to Trondheim and a drive south for a couple of hours, either way you’ll yourself in the Dovrefjell massif and with a good chance of encountering Muck Ox. The E6 road runs through the massif and the main spot is the region around Kolla mountain (you can find it on googlemaps); an impressive conical hill erupting out of the tundra landscape. With a sharp eye these beasts can be seen from the main road and especially the large pull-in due south of the mountain (2km NE of the turning up to the main massif view point). If searching for them on foot, just remember that males can get angry and will definitely be able to run faster than you. As long as you’re not the slowest member of your group you’ll be fine!

And if the Ox isn’t enough then a wander over the accessible land may produce Arctic Fox, Norway Lemming, Grey-sided or Root Vole, not to mention some cracking birds.

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