Brown bears, wolves, lynx, eagles… where in Europe are these carnivores still regular inhabitants? Where can you find mountainous regions that yet wait to be discovered by mass tourism? Just where is this place where untamed rivers run through endless alluvial forests, where eagles, storks and all kinds of rare flowers thrive? In Slovakia, in the eastern part of Middle Europe, untouched wilderness and an astonishing fauna and flora still exist.
The Slovak Republic – bordering Austria, Hungary, the Ukraine, Poland and the Czech Republic – lies in the heart of the European continent. Slovakia features natural landscapes, mountains, medieval castles and a surprisingly large biodiversity. The film “Wild Slovakia” stops at all the top wildlife spots and habitats of this fairly small country. With 49.000 square kilometers (19.000 square miles), it is only a little bigger than half the size of Scotland.
In Slovakia you can meet the large mammals such as deer, bears and wolves, the large birds of prey such as the Golden eagle, the Imperial eagle and the Common buzzard. But have you ever heard of the Blue slug or the Tatra chamois? Small predators such as the Ant-lion with its deadly trap, playful ground squirrels within the old walls of Spiš Castle and the European bison on the Ukrainian border are just some of the special cast of this film.
the peaks of the tatra mountains reach high into the clouds they form part of the Carpathian Mountain Range which stretches across much of Central and Eastern Europe the snowy Pinnacles Tower above Slovakia dominating the small country laughs.
It's a little known and pristine landscape in the very heart of Europe the tatra mountains form a dramatic backdrop along the northern edge of Slovakia once vast herds of bison and wild oxen would have grazed on these hillsides creating the Lush and open grasslands.
Today domestic animals have taken their place sheep have lost many of their Natural Instincts and make easy prey the Slovakian farmer depends on his Sheepdogs to protect his flocks.
Thank you around 800 brown bears live in these mountains they are very shy and rarely come into contact with people but with sheep and bears often living side by side attacks on grazing flocks are not uncommon.
Hunters are legally allowed to take 70 to 80 Bears each year and some are calling for this number to be increased there are casualties on both sides a golden eagle circles above looking for a meal it's not after the Sheep the short open grass provides an ideal hunting terrain.
For the large Raptor sharp rugged Cliffs rise dramatically from the forested slopes in the western carpathians this spectacular landscape also provides a perfect breeding habitat for golden eagles a ledge on the Steep rock face ensures that the young chick is safe from.
Predators as usual there's Mouse on the menu the Carpathian Mountains are rich in wildlife but some animals only make an appearance at dusk the badger and the links around 1500 of the shy cats are thought.
To live in these mountains emerging from its Borough the Badger's first priority is answering the call of nature it digs special latrines for the daily toilet the forest is alive with the sounds of its countless inhabitants the quiet chairing is from two badges.
Engrossed in the most intimate of Acts should their Union prove fruitful she will give birth to Young a year later the fertilized eggs will remain dormant within her until the following spring Slovakia lies within the heart of Europe bordered by five countries Poland Ukraine.
Hungry Austria and the Czech Republic the Carpathian Mountains stretch in an ark from east to west and many of its Peaks are adorned with the ruins of medieval castles foreign dates back to the 12th century it's a world heritage site today.
And home to the European ground squirrel the endangered squirrel is only found in the short open grasslands of Central and Eastern Europe the castle grounds provided with a plentiful supply of fresh shoots and flowers the great rose chafer beetle is another.
Rarity that's found refuge in the flowering Meadow the summer months are a time of Plenty for all with an abundance of leaves seeds and flowers the squirrels waste little time they need to double their weight now to survive The Long Winter ground squirrels live in colonies but.
Each individual has its own underground burrow and there's also no shortage of fresh bedding at this time of year at the first sign of danger the squirrels head for the safety of their Burrows it pays not to stray too far from the.
Entrance squirrels are regularly on the menu for birds of prey spisky's massive castle walls enclose an area of 50 000 square meters making it one of the largest medieval castles in Europe.
The Dolomite rock on which this Fortress sits has an ancient history the earliest settlements date Back 40 000 years to Neanderthal man and the first hillfort was built here by Celtic tribes in the 5th Century BC today the ruins of the 900 year old medieval castle perch high upon the.
Dolomite Hill providing a refuge for numerous plants and animals the marava river marks the boundary with neighboring Austria its vast floodplain has created one of the largest flooded Meadows in Europe a rare and valuable habitat within the wet grasslands Imperial.
Eagles are nesting high up in the canopies of the few remaining trees here they have an unobstructed view of their surroundings the flooded grasslands have remained largely undisturbed and allow a number of rare and endangered plants to survive the solitary clematis unlike its.
Climbing cousins has its feet firmly planted on the ground foreign it thrives in the wet and nutrient poor soil opening its purple and bell-shaped flowers to face the Sun with little interference from man Nature has created a spectacular display of.
Color foreign the rich Meadows also attract in numerous Birds egrets and stalks are after the frogs and insects hiding within the long grass high above the power of Imperial Eagles are keeping watch.
They have chicks in a nest nearby the Imperial Eagle is so rare in Europe that it is threatened with Extinction but in the Carpathian Basin the population is on the increase with Austria to the right and Slovakia to the left the morava River Winds its way past divinska kobila the most westerly peak in the Carpathian.
Mountains the dry Sandy slopes provide ideal nesting sites for European bead eaters is one of the warmest places in Slovakia and the bee eaters are getting ready to breed Japan first has to excavate a breeding burrow in the Cliff face and there's plenty of competition for.
The best spots the baked sand is loosened with sharp Jabs at the beak but it can take two to three weeks before the meter-long tunnel is complete human excavations have revealed Hidden Treasures on the Sandy slopes over 300 fossil animals deposited some 15 million years ago.
and many more still live here today the Doodlebug or antline digs a pit in the loose sand by shoveling in concentric circles thank you the finished pits are ingenious sound.
Traps for catching insect prey yellow flowers covers the dry Sunny slopes the yellow pheasants eye is a rare and endangered plant but here in devinska kabila it grows in abundance originally from the steps of Eurasia the pheasants eye likes it warm and sunny.
The bright yellow flowers angled towards the sun attract numerous insect pollinators dry grass slopes rise above a vast floodplain two very different habitats side by side yet both rich and wildlife in their own way numerous wildflowers thrive on the Sandy.
Hills the flowers of the white swallow Ward produce a sweet nectar that appeals to ants but to reach the sugary prize the ants have to navigate across a minefield foreign.
's carefully constructed pit has a deadly slope that makes it near impossible for its victim to escape a shower of sand further hampers a getaway the ant desperately tries to cling to the collapsing sides of the pit.
powerful jaws grab their Quarry and beat the victim to death the prey is dragged Underground and the trap set for the next victim hundreds of ant lions live on the Sandy.
Slopes of davinska kobila an invisible Army of underground predators but the Ferocious killers are only the juveniles of the species after two years underground the lava transforms into a flying insect resembling a dragonfly the newly hatched adult quickly climbs up a grass stem and pumps up its wings.
Before they Harden it will wait until dusk before flying off in search of a mate the bee eaters are now well into their breeding season deep within the Burrows the young chicks have hatched the parents have a busy month ahead providing a constant supply of insects.
For the growing youngsters the adult ant lion also has its work cut out in the next three to four weeks it has to find a mate and deposit its eggs in the sand before it dies a storm is brewing over the floodplain an army of mosquitoes Rises From The.
Meadows instinctively staying close to the ground to avoid the worst of the weather swallows take advantage of the rich supply of food flying low to pick the tiny insects from between the grasses please.
The marava river is fed by Waters from Austria Slovakia and the Czech Republic where it has its source long periods of rain or the sudden influx of melt water can cause the river levels to rise rapidly sometimes overnight the regular flooding of the land is what many of the rare species living here.
Depend on just beyond the capital of Bratislava the marava river flows around a Rocky outcrop and joins the river Danube strategically positioned on the cliffs is Devon Castle another of Slovakia's ancient forts from here the Danube flows slowly and sluggishly through a vast and fertile.
Floodplain once this was part of the Great Eurasian steps that stretched all the way across Europe and Asia today most of it has been turned into agricultural land but some of the grassland residents still managed to survive in the changed landscape.
The great bastard the heaviest flying bird in the world the bastard once depended on shoots and scenes of the steps now it feeds on grasses cultivated by man corn and cereals it seems to have adapted well to an agricultural landscape even so the shy birds are sensitive to.
Disturbance and have declined in numbers during the last century as farming has intensified the population in Slovakia has fallen from over 2 000 Birds to just a handful the brown hair was similarly once found in the step grasslands the adaptable animals clearly also thrive on cultivated land.
And continue to live in their thousands here while hairs breed prolifically in this man-made habitat the bastard is less resilient it avoids areas with much human activity and its Nets are frequently destroyed by agricultural machinery within the vast tracks of Farmland there.
Are still remnants of natural vegetation that provide an oasis for wildlife small re-beds crisscrossed by water channels and fringed by Willows the stagnant water is home to some unusual creatures they're curiously named weather fish a gigantic water beetle.
And a rare crested nude found only in the Danube basin but the most remarkable of all is a small unassuming fish the European mud minnow it lives in still shallow water where few other fish can survive the female deposits a handful of sticky eggs on water plants near the bottom and.
Fans them to ensure they have a steady supply of oxygen foreign she guards her eggs aggressively allowing nothing Within Reach haunting calls Echo over the still water.
belly toads their loud melodic calls are aimed at the females evidently with little success they've been calling all day the bright orange belly is a warning sign to Predators this mouthful is.
Poisonous the mud minnows eggs have hatched and the tiny fry are already hunting water fleas The Minnow is a specialist adapted to life in stagnant murky water but the loss of its natural habitats like these shallow ditches threaten its survival.
the Eastern Slovak blowland is part of the Great Hungarian plain a mosaic of grasslands marshes and swamp forests this is a place where time has stood still and many villages are still embedded within vast swathes of meadow it's the ideal habitat for an iconic.
Bird inska radishta is also known as the stork Village it's home to the largest colony of white stalks in Slovakia with over 20 breeding pairs the birds happily build their bundle of twinks on man-made structures and.
Electricity pylons seem to be a favorite storks will reuse their old nests and some have been continuously inhabited for hundreds of years raising Young on electricity pylons is not without its hazards but in this Village the masts are.
Special they don't carry electricity the council has erected over 20 masts specially fitted with circular platforms to accommodate the nests this ensures that the birds can breed safely and The Village's power supply is not at risk stalks are not the only large birds.
Breeding in the Slovak lowlands a colony of spoonbills have built their nests within a marshy Reed bed it's the only breeding site for spoonbills in Slovakia and it's another man-made habitat in the 1970s a series of fish ponds was built in the sen depression they attract thousands of water Birds.
Including the iconic spoonbills the spoonbills search for small fish or Crustaceans probing in the turbid water with their highly specialized bills oh today the sand wetlands are used both by fish farmers and wild birds they are surrounded by marshes and.
Meadows and form part of a large Nature Reserve foreign northwards the Carpathian Mountains start to dominate the landscape once more they are also known as the wooded carpathians and retain remnants of ancient forests interspersed with Lush.
Meadows red back strikes are hunting for insects in the flowering Meadows to feed their young fledglings there is a plentiful supply of food at this time of year and the youngsters will not go hungry Meadows with long-standing trees are.
Much in demand the hupo needs both insect prey and Nest holes to raise its young the young chick is nearly ready to leave the nest but will still need feeding for some time both parents fly back and forth bringing in the juicy morsels this chick is so large it doesn't need the safety of a tree hole it's the young.
Of a lesser spotted eagle which has built its nest near the forest edge the specialized Hunter seeks out a high vantage point and will sit for hours watching its surroundings with eagle eyes it feeds on small birds and mammals even frogs and reptiles and can spot its prey from a few hundred meters away.
The eagle has few enemies but white stalks are after the same prey and don't always want to share it's the stalk that decides to give way the eagle has spotted something in the grass below foreign.
she's caught a large vole it will make a sizable meal for her check shortly after taking to the air she transfers the prey to her Talons to carry back to the nest.
With a little persuasion the meal goes down whole the rich grasslands of Eastern Slovakia are also home to a Shaggy Giant European bison the large grazers were once found all over lowland Europe but by the 20th century they'd been hunted to Extinction in the wild.
In 2004 a few animals were reintroduced to polyni National Park in Slovakia today this herd numbers around 20 animals with a further 300 living in the Polish carpathians the Eastern carpathians are one of the few areas in Europe where bison roamed freely once again the Far Eastern corner of Slovakia not.
Only boasts rare animals it's also known for the vast areas of ancient Beach and Pine remnants of the Primeval forests that once covered much of Europe Fallen trees are left to decompose naturally providing food for many insects.
mm-hmm the rare Rosalia longhorn beetle lives almost exclusively on dead Beech trees after mating the eggs are deposited in bark crevices so that the larvae can develop in the decaying wood in managed Woodlands these beetles have little chance of survival.
With its striking colors and long antennae the longhorn is one of the most eye-catching of beetles Slovakia's ancient forests also hold other rare Treasures the dainty purple flowers of a Primula the Alpine Bells this elegant little flower grows only in the mountains of Southern and Eastern.
Europe thriving on the dappled forest floor further to the West near the Polish border the Snowy Peaks of the tatra mountains rear beer today they are protected as a national park the oldest and largest in Slovakia the tatra national park was established.
In 1949 as the first of its kind in the country five years later the Polish side of the mountains received a similar status foreign these are the highest peaks in the carpathians 25 of them are over 2 500 meters high.
And yet the entire range is no more than 27 kilometers long making it one of the smallest mountain ranges in the world tatra shamwa live high up on the mountain slopes they are found nowhere else in the world a number just over a thousand individuals a Salt Lick has attracted the animals to.
This cave it also offers them protection from the storm Mountain weather can change dramatically within minutes the tatras form a great barrier along the northern edge of Slovakia causing rain clouds to pile up.
They dumped nearly 2 000 millimeters of rain onto the forested slopes anymore and they would literally be turned into rainforests the plants and animals that live here are used to the Rain the wet forests at the foot of the tatras are also home to some rare and unusual creatures.
Some are found only in the Carpathian Mountains the Carpathian blue slug it searches for fungi to feed on among the dead wooden Leaf litter foreign.
National Park is our last refuge for creatures that are found nowhere else in the world other species also flourish and occur in larger numbers than most other parts of Europe the Carpathian Red Deer is one of the largest in Europe it shares the forest with wild boar.
The stack can weigh up to 500 kilos and Rivals the American elk or Wapiti in size the female is considerably smaller brown bears were once found all across Europe but today the carpathians are one of the few places left with a healthy population.
Okay over 8 000 brown bears live here today they are big and strong enough to kill a wild bull but they prefer to feed on plants or scavenge on carcasses the large mammals live quite peacefully alongside each other a storm is building up again over the.
Tatras forty percent of the rainfall each year is in the summer months the weather changes by the hour sunshine and Rain close on each other's heels and at night the dazzling display of nature at its most powerful foreign.
Night sky is particularly dark and spectacular with few settlements and little pollution the stars appear in their full Glory as summer gives way to the colors of autumn changes in the air temperatures drop and the tatras are shrouded in Early Morning Mist.
It's the rutting season for fallow deer a red fox seems unperturbed by all the noise the Stags are eager to display their new antlers and test their strength on Rival males it's all to impress the females oh.
the large antlers are shed and regrown every year each time growing in size as the Stag matures by the 11th year the antlers are in their Prime but it's not just the antlers that are used to impress the Stags also woo the ladies with their calls.
for three to four weeks the rotting arena is filled with males strutting their stuff by the end of the season the Stags will be exhausted.
Their mission accomplished the Autumn days can still bring plenty of clear skies and Golden Sunshine they cast a magical glow over a unique landscape.
thank you as the trees finally shed the last of their leaves the forest is ready for the onset of winter Slovakia's rich and varied Wildlife is.
The result of a unique landscape with ancient forests lowland floodplains and vast grasslands stretching towards the iconic Tantra mountains
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