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Snowshoeing is fun... and it’s also the best way to track the wild animals of the forests and mountains! Come and join us in studying the populations of deer and chamois and their connection to the return of big predators (wolves and lynx) in the Alps.
Did you know that the Alps have now seen the return of two big predators: the wolf and the lynx? This return will surely be accompanied by sizeable changes in the populations of their prey (deer, roe deer, chamois…), but what do we know about the consequences on biodiversity in our mountains? Is the return of the big predators a benefit for biodiversity as their defenders claim? Or, on the contrary, will it cause the disappearance of certain species as other people claim?
It is with the aim of answering these questions that we invite you on the “Alpine Tracker” camp in Val d’Anniviers 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 will go snowshoeing on the trail of wild animals from forests and mountains to make an assessment of their populations. In the years that follow, we will be able to study their development before and after the imminent return of the big predators in this valley.
- © OSI : Sierre Annivers.ch,Wikipedia/AlanStewart
So get ready for an investigation in the heart of the snowy mountains where our snowshoes will take us off the beaten track to find imprints, remains of meals, hair, droppings and other indications of wild animals’ passage. So many puzzles to solve: who went through there, how many were there, what did they do? In short, you will be able to become a true “Alpine Tracker”!
But we will not forget to look for the animals themselves! Lookouts, spotting scopes and morning walks will allow us to surprise some of the beautiful animals, including deer, golden eagles or white-tailed ermines!
Finally, in the summer as well as in the winter, we have the chance to visit and enjoy the Observatoire François-Xavier Bagnoud located in Saint-Luc. It possesses, among other things, a 600 mm telescope and specialized, passionate facilitators who collaborate with the NGO Objectif Sciences International.
Located in a site renowned for the purity and stability of its atmosphere, the observatory is intended for the amateur astronomer wanting to work in an almost professional way, the simply curious among us, and schools. Equipped with numerous instruments (60 cm telescope with CCD camera, 15 cm telescope, heliostat), it can be used both at day and night.
The main building houses a 30-seat auditorium with full audio-visual equipment. Other facilities such as a small library, a workstation connected to the internet, a workshop, a photo lab, a kitchen and a dormitory of 6 beds complete the observatory.
The Objectif Sciences International groups are made up of lovers of science Science La science est désormais l’affaire de tous. Découvrez la science d’une manière ludique et active. Nous vous proposons d’en découvrir plus sur nos expéditions à la voile, découverte du plancton. who are passionate about stars. We are welcome to partake in observation projects that are a little more advanced than the average, to make sure you’re fully satisfied!
The village of St-Luc is a mountain village that moves to the rhythm of the planets, stars and galaxies! At the intersections of the streets, you will discover Mars, Pluto, the sun, Venus... painted on the walls. While some cottages have names that are... galactic.
Saint-Luc and the Val d’Anniviers thus offer us a richness as much historical as geological, architectural and obviously biological, in a human context that is well integrated with the environment: ideal to satisfy our curiosity!
New Year’s Eve Party
During stays taking place in December, we celebrate the New Year as it should be celebrated, and on the summer trips, we celebrate the Swiss National Day of August 1, which is typical in the altitudes of these mountains.
On December 31 at midnight, the fireworks flood the Valley—it’s magical. Swedish lanterns are built in the snow.
In Val d’Anniviers, to protect the black grouse, the moors of rhododendrons, blueberries, and juniper jungles within the wooded pasture were voluntarily conserved and preserved from the disturbances due to human activity.
When you become interested in the animals present in this valley in addition to the black grouse, you’ll notice a mountain populated with ibex, chamois, foxes, marmots, martens, grouse, snow partridges, ermines, weasels, squirrels, black woodpeckers, European green woodpeckers, great spotted woodpeckers, kestrels and badgers. You will be surprised at such abundance and will wonder if these animals still exist in the valley. To which we will reply, yes. And none of these animals are on the list of endangered species. Even the grouse, which is the pride of the valley, is still abundant.
- © OSI : Berggeist007/pixelio.de, Erich Keppler/pixelio.de, Sylvain ALLOMBERT
And the lynx and wolf in all this? Well, they are everywhere: in Italy, in France, 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. , and... they also circulate while crossing Val d’Anniviers. If the “Tailing the Animals” trips, which are organized in this miraculous valley by Objectif Sciences International, allow us to learn more about these emblematic species, the other camps offered in Val d’Anniviers will allow you to also discover its other natural facets (geology and crystal mines, archaeology, climatology, glaciers, architecture...).
The main objective of this research project is to try to identify and evaluate populations of large fauna (deer, roe deer, chamois...) in our study area, located in the mountains above our accommodations. To what purpose? Well, to participate in the OSI BIODIVERSITA research program Research Program Collaborate with scientific organizations. Actively take part in participative science research programs. All this is possible with our plankton discovery sailing expedition. on the evolution of biodiversity in Val d’Anniviers and the effect of the return of large predators. With the wolf and lynx being present at a short distance from Val d’Anniviers, and given their current population dynamics, it is certain that their return to this valley will take place in a few years at most. The data collected throughout the winter will allow us to evaluate the changes in large mammal populations before and after the return of large predators.
This data will then be combined with the data collected during [“On the Lookout for Biodiversity”] trips in the summer, in order to be able to evaluate the impact (positive or negative) of large predators on biodiversity, be it their impact on large mammals or on plants and insects.
Finally, from a methodological point of view, it is a trip aimed at developing methods of monitoring fauna that are effective and adapted even to groups of beginner-level but motivated people. Indeed, our very partial knowledge of the biodiversity in our lives comes largely from the few specialists able to study it: developing citizen initiatives to study biodiversity is therefore a major aim! The more you know about biodiversity, the better.
- © OSI : Wikipedia/US National Park Service, OSI, Wikipedia/Steven Hint, Wikipedia/Frederik Vandaele
The mountain village of Saint-Luc is located in Val d’Anniviers, a wild and charming valley of the Valais Suisse. The surrounding peaks rise above 3,000 meters, including 4 above 4,000 meters! And we can gaze upon the Matterhorn, the most famous mountain in Switzerland. Geology is particularly rich in this valley, due, among other things, to the formation of the Alps. This place has known significant mining activity since prehistoric times (crystals, metals...). Today, it is possible to visit some of the mines with Objectif Sciences International and see the various minerals outcrop. One of them is particularly special... because it shines at night!
The mountain setting is beautiful in both summer and winter. Whether we watch from the window or go for a walk, the lakes, passes, peaks and meadows are breathtaking. There are still many glaciers, like the Moiry, at the foot of which we camp in the summer. The gigantism of this sleeping water reflected in the mirror of a high-altitude lake, and accompanied by views from high atop always causes some emotion. Biodiversity that grows, runs and flies is also abundant and remarkable; from alpine flora to golden eagles, deer and other native crickets. Thus, it is the ideal setting to learn all the stages of hiking and managing a campfire.
In the valley of Anniviers, there are only a few rustic villages, and it is a rather preserved valley, despite being inhabited for a long time. Indeed, the valley has a rich history. There are two sites of cup-marked stones, a mysterious remnant of the Neolithic era, and many eighteenth-century mills that are artifacts of significant rye-flour production. As you will see, the rustic architecture is very distinctive and completely adapted to the specific constraints of this mountain floor.
In winter, Saint-Luc/Chandolin is a great ski resort suitable for beginners as well as more experienced people, which allows skiing or surfing in front of beautiful landscapes.
An important advantage of this place is the La Poste Suisse bus which allows us to move easily throughout the valley, limiting our carbon footprint.
This valley boasts a magnificent view and a welcoming atmosphere.
In winter, the slopes—suitable for all—are well-covered in snow and will provide challenges for skiers of all levels. And all that under the scorching sun of Valais!
In the summer, the Valais is fairytale-like in its welcoming surroundings: summits over 4,000 meters high, bountiful biodiversity, magical landscapes, and adventures galore.
While parents will enjoy tasting some of the best wines in the world: fortified wines, sweet wines, dry whites from Valais, aged red wines... which benefit from the greatest sunshine of the central zone of Western Europe and the young alpine rocks...
... children and teenagers will benefit from a great playground that is as good for science Science La science est désormais l’affaire de tous. Découvrez la science d’une manière ludique et active. Nous vous proposons d’en découvrir plus sur nos expéditions à la voile, découverte du plancton. as for pleasure... skiing or snowshoeing in winter, and hiking, climbing, caving and mountain-climbing in summer.
And yes, parents will also be able to ski on winter stays; try and stop them!
St-Luc: between the sky and land, the Station des Étoiles
Imagine a large balcony comfortably set in the line of sight of the Matterhorn and all its imposing peers... Imagine this same balcony flooded with an insistent sun that we would not dare turn down... Imagine a balcony which you are allowed to escape at will and from where we can feel, if we let ourselves sway, the density, the energy, the symphony of colors and the smell of the wild surrounding nature. Imagine that this place exists. This balcony is St-Luc.
St-Luc blends the charm of the past with the healthy excitement of mountain life. St-Luc is the geographical and astronomic center of Valais. In St-Luc, while strolling on the path of the planets, you’ll be right between heaven and earth. We’ll take the shape of our world, where the planets are aligned like in the solar system, respecting the scale of magnitudes and distances. And since you will have the chance to look in the telescope, you will go so far as touch the stars. St-Luc is all that... and more. But come see for yourself...
The largest ski area in Val d’Anniviers:
Early in the morning, when the sun is combined with the freshly fallen snow, it’s impossible to escape the white magic. The pleasure of the descent is increased tenfold by the great scenery ... Welcome to the St-Luc/Chandolin ski area!
Facing the majestic panorama of the surrounding peaks that rise up 4,000 meters, the ski slopes of St-Luc/Chandolin, located between 1,650 and 3,000 meters above sea level, offer skiers of all levels:
* snow cover provided by snow cannons
* 75 km of ski slopes
* 1 funicular, 2 chairlifts, 13 ski lifts
* 1 snow park
* 1 3.5 km luge track
* free shuttle buses
- © OSI : OSI, sierre-anniviers.ch
A tracker is not made to relax by the fire! Therefore, a maximum amount of time will be spent in nature to search, identify, count and locate the tracks and indicators of wildlife! Then equipped with a backpack, warm clothes, a field notebook, binoculars, a GPS, and a telescope, you’ll be ready to explore the great outdoors!
But what is exploration? It is a period of observation where we will sharpen our 5 senses and our curiosity to find and discover footprints in the snow, feces, remains of meals as well as all the animals that we will be able to surprise! And once we become familiar with all of this, we can develop methods to try to quantify all of our observations to assess the abundance of each species.
When the weather is less appealing, we will still have something to do at LINABIO (our superb Naturalistic Biodiversity Identification Laboratory): classify our samples, check our identifications with the help of the large naturalist library, list our discoveries on a map... And we will also reflect on the data collected to take stock of the progress of our project and better target our future research.
But even trackers need to relax: all this will be punctuated by myriad extra-scientific activities such as great games, parties, discovery workshops and sports activities, not to mention hot chocolates to comfort our athletes!
- © OSI
Sylvain Allombert is the scientific and technical manager of the “Biodiversita” Research Program Research Program Collaborate with scientific organizations. Actively take part in participative science research programs. All this is possible with our plankton discovery sailing expedition. and “Alpine Tracker” camps. His doctoral dissertation in ecology, conducted between France and Canada, allowed him to discover his vocation: the popularization of scientific knowledge on biodiversity. It is in an association that he came to develop his skills in this field, working with all types of people, from young children to professionals.
On a naturalist level, he is a generalist, having practiced ornithology, entomology and ecology, also touching upon other areas such as botany, mammals, reptiles and amphibians.
On this trip, Sylvain will be in charge of organizing scientific activities, but will also act as special advisor for “birds” and “animal tracks” for our budding investigators! His extremely diverse knowledge of the natural world will not fail to satisfy the curiosity of the participants!
Elise MARC, Paratriathlon award-winning champion
Previous participant in Objectif Sciences International science camps Science Camps Our science camps are vacation camps where your children will discover a scientific domain which speaks to them: astronomy, archaeology, marine ecology... At the same time the will be able to do various outdoor activities: archery, swimming, hiking....
“Following my accident when I was a pre-teen, it was after an Objectif Sciences International trip in 2006 that I took my first shot at cycling. I want to thank their tutors for their listening skills and their appetite for facing challenges. They allowed me to have a very good stay!”
Our accommodations in Val d’Anniviers are at the Grand Hôtel du Cervin. This magnificent hotel dating from the Romantic-era Alps, built in 1883, is now classified as a historic building by the Valais. This hotel, located in the heart of Saint-Luc, offers a location that allows us to easily access the slopes in winter and trails for hiking in summer, as we are less than a fifteen-minute walk from the funicular. This also allows us to go to the astronomic observatory at the top of the funicular, and to have it all to ourselves in the middle of the night, which is a spectacular experience! This allows us to reduce our travel and our carbon footprint. In addition, we have easy access to the Poste Suisse bus which stops at all the important points of the valley.
The interior of the Grand Hôtel du Cervin has been regularly maintained since its initial construction, and has been renovated while respecting the history and architecture. We use spacious four-bed rooms with two bunk beds in the children’s rooms, and a double bed in the parents’ rooms. This large building allows us to have many spaces for our activities, or just to hang out.
The meals are mostly typical cuisine, from mountain to Italian cooking. We have the chance to eat a traditional raclette once a week (here, it is large cheese wheels that melt; need we say more?). It is therefore in a warm family atmosphere that we will live in this historic hotel, in the heart of the Swiss culture and overlooking a beautiful valley.
This Center welcomes parents and children on family holidays in July, August, on New Year’s, February and many other times of the year (climbs in September, mountain flowers in June...).
Val d’Anniviers is located south of Sierre (Switzerland), southeast of the canton of Valais, where the source of the Rhone is located. Valais is located east of Lake Geneva, after passing Geneva and Lausanne.
To join us on this trip, you can:
- Find your own way there (you’ll receive a map and schedule)
- Plan a trip from any city in the world: Contact us for more information
- Transfer by train or minibus from certain cities
- Take a flight: Contact us for more information
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
1) Do we need to know how to use snowshoes to attend the camp?
No, snowshoeing is not difficult; knowing how to walk is enough to start off with!
2) Will the walks using snowshoes be physically demanding?
Not too much, because we will be able to use the cable car to climb, which is located very close to our accommodations. It is ideally placed and will allow us easy access to many areas of study. This means that the participants will often have the descent to do, which is the easiest and the most fun part! But that will also depend, of course, on the participants; the most motivated participants will be able to choose sportier itineraries if they wish, without the beginner participants being obliged to follow them (and this is thanks to our high rate of supervision).
3) Will we see all the big animals (chamois, deer, ermines…)
From one week to the next, we will not necessarily see them all. We will look for their tracks and clues and study their habits, but these animals remain wild and therefore sometimes difficult to see. During lookouts, we will certainly see some; we may be able to surprise others during the day, but nothing is ever guaranteed in wild nature!
Concepts Learned during the Camp
Ecosystems - Population Biology - Presence indicators - Terrestrial mammals - Animal tracking - Traces of animals - Quantitative analysis - Qualitative analysis - Food chains - Biotope - Behavior - Adaptation strategies - Transects - Cartography - Mammalogy - Natural environments - Biodiversity inventories - Counting
Topographic map - Binoculars - Field magnifying glass - Binocular loupe - Photographic trap - GPS - Identification keys - Compasses - Impression mould - Sampling boxes - Field notebook - Identification and popular-science guides - Snowshoes - Telescope
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