Elodie Moos

The legend of the dahu

Many people have heard of the dahu, but few have had the chance to actually see it in the mountains. Find out more about this secretive animal that lives round here.

From a morphological point of view, the dahu is a close cousin of the chamois and the ibex - but there is one thing about the dahu that makes it really special: its legs on one side are shorter than the other, meaning that it navigates the hilly terrain where it lives with ease.

Scientists think that that is due to a remarkable adaptation to its natural environment. The dahu basically lives on steep hills all the time, and so - unlike its cousins the chamois and the ibex - the dahu gets around the mountain without bending its knees.

There are two distinct families of the dahu: one has shorter right legs (dahus desterus), and so they move clockwise, while the other has shorter left legs (dahus senesterus) and goes anti-clockwise.

But there is one major inconvenience: the dahu cannot retrace its steps, as the shorter legs would go nowhere and the animal would definitely fall over.

Hunters have certainly cottoned on to that, and to hunt the dahu all they need to do is take a large bag. Once the hunter has spotted the dahu, they will discreetly get right behind it as close as they can and will then blow hard on a whistle, at which point the surprised dahu will turn right round! The shorter legs will not touch the ground and the dahu will fall over and roll to the bottom of the slope. The second hunter, waiting below, just has to open the bag to catch the dahu as it falls.

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