The Monts d'Azur Reserve: a 700 hectare
natural sanctuary for European wildlife

The Monts d'Azur Biological Reserve is a mosaic of open spaces (rocky cliffs, scree slopes and meadows) and outstanding woodland (pubescent oaks, beech, rowan .).

 

Once a hunting reserve, it now is home to a wide variety of fauna including: chamois, red deer, roe deer, golden eagles, black woodpeckers and black grouse.

 

More than 500 species can be found, of which 20 are protected under international agreements.

 

The Reserve is in the commune of Thorenc, a 40 minute drive from Grasse and just over an hour from Draguignan and Nice.

The disappearance of wildlife is closely linked
to the development of human society

Long before humans began to cultivate the mainly forested landscape, large mammals (bison, wild horses, elk, aurochs..) were shaping it.

 

Over the centuries forest coverage declined as agriculture and livestock farming in France and across Europe developed. Along with hunting, wars and population growth it contributed to the gradual disappearance of the large herbivores.

 

The big predators (wolf, lynx and brown bear) were wiped out or reduced to residual populations (as with bears in the Pyrenees).

The return of large herbivores after more than a thousand years

It is time that France rediscovered its lost species. Today, more than twelve centuries after it disappeared from Mediterranean forests, the largest European mammal is back.

 

The European bison roams the plains and forests of Thorenc once again. In 2005 and 2006 Patrice Longour, vet, and his team collected two groups of this magnificent animal from the forest of Bialowieza in Poland, their last European refuge.

At the same time Patrice Longour acquired several Przewalski horses from European zoos and released them in the Domaine du Haut-Thorenc. This courageous small horse, depicted in numerous Cro-Magnon cave paintings, has always remained totally wild. It is the only horse that man has never managed to tame!

An animal roaming free is one of the most beautiful sights in the world

The Monts d'Azur Reserve is the only place in Europe where the European bison and Przewalski horse live side by side again. These two emblematic species, that man almost wiped out, are reunited in a space they share with deer, chamois, wild boar, foxes, wolves, lynx and many other species. Wild and free!

 

Before us, no one had dared to organise such a reunion. We did it. This challenge is one of the most exciting ecological projects currently taking place in Europe.

Come and discover the Mont d'Azur Reserve, a place of freedom.

 

 

French TV news report on the Monts d'Azur Biological Reserve

Text : Patrice Longour – Photos : Baptiste Vivinus



with colaboration of :