THE FALLOW DEER AN AMAZING CERVID
The real name of the European fallow deer is Dama dama. He looks just like Disney’s Bambi, but that one is a white-tailed fawn from Virginia. The fallow deer is much smaller than a Red Deer. The male measures almost one metre at the withers and weighs 60 kilos; 90 kilos if wet. The female measures 80 centimetres, weighting between 30 and 50 kilos. Its small size doesn’t prevent the male from displaying magnificent flat and webbed antlers like those of the elk. He’s also an incredible animal scared of nothing. If necessary, he doesn’t hesitate to challenge a deer weighing four times his weight.
In the past, the fallow deer frolicked all over Europe and also in Asia Minor during the last ice age. The fallow deer struggle and had to take refuge in the corners of Asia Minor to survive.
It was the Romans who reintroduced it to Europe because they adored its meat. The Phoenicians were seeking it because they had made it their sacrificial animal. Today, fallow deer is found around the Mediterranean (such as the south of France and Spain), but also in Alsatian and Scandinavian forests. This demonstrates its remarkable qualities of adaptation.
The Elk The largest of the cervids
Of all the deer, the elk is the largest and most imposing. The males can measure more than two meters at the withers for a weight exceeding 600 kg. That is more than a thoroughbred horse! As for the antlers, it is a real forest weighing up to 20 kilos.
Today, the elk still lives in the wild in Scandinavia, the Baltic States and northern Russia. But its range was originally much wider than that. It circulated in a good part of Europe and France was no exception. Agricultural expansion and hunting have over the years pushed it northwards where it has found its last refuge. The last French elks were killed in the bay of the Seine and in Alsace around the 11th century.
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THE EUROPEAN BISON THE HEAVYWEIGHT OF THE RESERVE
Less massive than its American cousin, the European Bison nevertheless remains the largest land mammal in Europe: 800 kg on average for an adult male and a height of 1m80.
For all that, this vegetarian heavyweight does not let it go to its head! The fifty specimens present in the Monts d’Azur Animal Reserve actively contribute to the renewal of the biodiversity of forests and plains.
Once threatened with extinction, the European bison is on the mend, specifically thanks to the international program set up in partnership with Poland. The Monts d’Azur Reserve has actively contributed to more than 60 births since 2008. 22 young bison have been transferred to other reserves in France, Holland, and Spain.
PRZEWALSKY’S HORSE THE WILD CHARACTER OF THE RESERVE
Never approach a Przewalski’s Horse, its mood is terrible. It bites and kicks for no reason.
On the Reserve, this grumpy animal dares to face the bison twice as heavy as him.
This is why, legend claims that man could never domesticate the horse. Having therefore never been subject to artificial selection, it is the specie closest to the prehistoric horse.
Its small size (between 1m30 to 1m40 at the withers) does not prevent it from proudly upholding a large head carried by a thick neck. Its ears are rather long and its eyes set high on a flat forehead, giving it a more forward gaze than other horses.
THE RED DEER THE KING OF THE FOREST
The Red Deer, emblematic animal, symbol of power for some, of nobility for others, has been present in European forests for 250,000 years.
Its numbers have fluctuated with the rhythm of the ice ages and are currently estimated, in France, at 150,000 individuals. However, it remains difficult to observe.
The Red Deer loses its antlers yearly, at the end of winter or at the very beginning of spring, and wears a new set every summer.
SMALL UNGULATES OTHER WONDERS
OF THE RESERVE
Discover the other wonders of the Reserve: the ungulates are herbivorous mammals with paws covered with either nails or a hoof.
Some ungulates have horns, such as bison or chamois. Others have antlers such as deer, roe deer or elk.
This group of animals includes horses, ruminants, and pigs but also the elephant and the aardvark!
In the Reserve, small ungulates are the roe deer, chamois, and wild boar.