NATURE reveals a breathtaking view into the world of a red deer calf as he struggles to survive in Prince of the Alps.
From the moment he is born, a red deer calf faces a life-long struggle to survive in his new home — the mountain wilderness of the Austrian Alps. His first six weeks are filled with exploration and discovery of his world, under the watchful eye of his mother. When he is ready, he and his mother journey along age-old migration paths from the forests up to the high mountain meadows, where the beginning of summer brings life and renewal to the slopes. There, they join other red deer mothers and their calves. The stags have already arrived, their antlers covered in tender velvet — and growing quickly.
Featuring panoramic scenes of lush landscapes, Prince of the Alps travels high into the mountains, where chamois and ibex are right at home on the nearly vertical cliffs, marmots emerge late from hibernation, and red deer prove their agility. The little prince enjoys special status in the herd, thanks to his mother’s social rank. She leads him to the best feeding places and teaches him about his new surroundings. His first brush with civilization is a herdsman calling out to his cattle. Unlike drivers on the roads, and the hunters and hikers who also invade their world, the herdsman poses no threat to deer in the mountains. The young calf also learns his first lesson about dangerous weather in the mountains, where storms rage and lighting kills.
In September, the mountains echo with the calls of the great red deer stags. During the six weeks or so of the autumn rut, the stags compete for the chance to father next year’s calves before the seasons change and winter claims the mountains. Snow, ice, cold, and hunger will also claim their share of the herds before spring returns. Many deer find it hard to feed and finding shelter takes all the energy they have.
Seven months into his life, the little prince is left alone and his chances of survival are slim. But when the sights and sounds of spring once again appear, and the red deer mothers and calves make their way up to the high mountain pastures, a one-year-old red deer calf with tiny antlers sets out with them. He has earned his place as Prince of the Alps.
Online content for Prince of the Alps was originally posted May 2008.