In Europe, Spring is the season of birth...

With air temperatures back in positive figures and the melting of the snow, wild animals find living conditions once again favourable.

 

The warmer weather in March and the first rains awaken the dormant vegetation. Animals find new food sources. Females are then able to produce good quality milk, essential for the development of their young.

 

The conditions are ripe for birth.

... In March, young wild boar are the first to roam the Reserve.

The wild boar give birth at the beginning of March and sometimes even earlier, despite the snow on the ground.

 

The gestation period lasts 3 months, 3 weeks and 3 days, a total of 115 days. After hiding away in a natural depression covered in thick vegetation, the female gives birth to 2 or 3 young, and very occasionally 4 or 5. After a week the young litter can follow their mother as she looks for food.

 

From the beginning of March, these families can often be spotted near our domestic horses, no doubt to take the grain and pellets they leave in the fields.

 

When winters are long and hard, like in 2009, the boars may lose their young and give birth to a new litter in the summer.

 

Although the young feed on their mother's milk for 2 to 3 months, they follow her until they are two and sometimes the young females stay for even longer.

 

 

In May the first fawn hide in the undergrowth

At the end of March, the deer herds break up. Female deer, with their young born the year before, seek out areas of thick vegetation to provide a secure refuge for their coming fawn.

 

In the Reserve, the births begin around the end of April and continue throughout May until the beginning of June. The gestation period is 8 months and the doe usually gives birth to one fawn, but very occasionally she produces two.

 

In the same period, female roe deer leave their young from the previous year to find an isolated place, where they give birth to one or two, and sometimes three young.

Undoubtedly to avoid the new-born being noticed by predators, these mothers (both deer and roe deer) eat the umbilical cord, stained grass and the faeces of their fawn.

 

For the first weeks of their life, the fawn spend most of the time hidden from predators in the long grass or bushes. The mothers frequently visit to feed and clean them.

 

From May onwards, during the guided visits at the Reserves, deer and roe deer often try to attract our attention in order to divert visitors from their fawn hidden in the vegetation. Our guides are advised to play along and follow the mother until she gives them the slip.

After a few weeks the female deer rejoin their herd, while the roe deer females remain apart until the next rut (July/August).

 

At Thorenc, the herds usually reform in July and at the edges of the forest you can see the young suckling their mothers.

In June the young bison gallop across the meadows

Unlike the deer herds, the bison herds stay together during the calving season. After a nine month gestation period, the females ready to give birth leave the herd to go to one of the two birthing sites on the Reserve. Sometimes another female will accompany them, but never the young from the previous year. These two sites are used by all the females and we do not really know why they were chosen. Eighteen bison have been born since 2006.

Two or three days after leaving the herd the females give birth to just one young, weighing between 15 and 20 kg. They watch their offspring very carefully for 3 to 6 days, after which time they rejoin the herd. At first they come and go, but once the young bison is strong enough to gallop across the meadows, they stay definitively with the herd.


For the first 10 days the mothers are very wary and can charge without warning! Our guides avoid the birthing places from May to July and do not approach nursing mothers until they have definitively rejoined the herd.

Spring, the season of renewal and new generations

Text : Patrice Longour – Photos : Baptiste Vivinus



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