Carefree days of Summer

As summer arrives the birthing season draws to a close. The animals once again enjoy a simple and calm life.


The last snow melted three months ago and the hard winter days seem an age ago.



Over the course of a few weeks, the snow damaged grassland has become a landscape with a dazzling display of wild plants. The flowers take over the green fields and attract insects, to the delight of birds and insect-eating mammals. Even the fox enjoys a meal of grasshoppers and crickets!

The Return of Abundance

Herbivores use the summer bounty to renew their food reserves after 4 or 5 months of privation. The wild herds spread out over the whole Reserve. During the hottest hours of the day they seek refuge in the forest, otherwise they like to stay on the edges of the forest and in the prairies, where food is abundant.



On the Reserve the pastures are not cultivated or mown. It falls to the bison, horses and deer to carry out this work. The grazing herbivores help biodiversity by creating high level grasslands and meadows; areas once almost completely colonised by just three or four plant species before the arrival of the bison and horses are now areas with over thirty species of plants.

This spectacular evolution of the flora is not restricted to open spaces. In the areas of the forest the bison choose to go changes have also taken place. Instead of the Mediterranean forest of scots pine, wooded meadows have appeared, reminiscent of the larch meadows and swiss pines found above 1600 metres in the neighbouring Mercantour region.

When wild herbivores open up the landscape

Bison pasture on all types of land. There great strength enables them to make clearings in the forest. Wild horses and deer continue their work by grazing the now accessible bushes.








The wild boar complete the task by churning up the undergrowth, accelerating the aeration of the soil and germination of dormant pioneer plants.

The new spaces are then colonised by smaller animals like the chamois, roe deer and hares; all appetising prey for larger predators like the lynx and wolf.

Text : Patrice Longour – Photos : Baptiste Vivinus

with colaboration of :
zooConseil général des Alpes-MaritimesPrefecture des Alpes Maritime