Askania-Nova Biosphere Reserve – Center for the Endangered Przewalski Horse

If you have already discovered the natural beauty of Ukraine but want to see even more, the Askaniya-Nova Biosphere Reserve is the ideal reserve to visit. This well conserved parcel of land stands out starkly against the surrounding farmlands and provides a perfect example of the benefits and importance of conservation. The reserve is situated roughly 60 kilometers south-east of Khakhova which is not far from the Black Sea. It provides an excellent example of southern-steppe biological diversity.

The Askaniya-Nova Biosphere Reserve is situated in the Dniper-Molochnoe lowland which is full of land-intensive farming practices. The surrounding area has been carefully cultivated for decades and today there is a stark contrast between the natural lushness of the reserve and the dry and orderly layout of the farm lands. There are as many as six different villages as well as a settlement which exist within the boundaries of the biosphere reserve. These villages are largely supported by the surrounding farmers who mainly focus on the cultivation of wheat, barley, corn, vegetables and melons. Some also engage in animal farming and work with sheep, cattle and pigs. These farms and villages form a largely self-supporting community, though ecotourism also accounts for a large part of the area’s financial income, and the immediate area sees more than 1.5 million tourists a year from both national and international countries.

The reason that tourism is so popular here is largely due to the use of the reserve to preserve and breed a number of more unusual or endangered wildlife. During the 19th century when it was established, it featured a zoological park complete with a breeding center for the endangered Przewalski horse. The Przewalski horse is considered to be one of the only true wild horses to have ever existed since they have never been successfully domesticated while other ‘wild’ horses, such as mustangs, mostly derive from domesticated horses. The center also bred ostriches and aboriginal ungulates as well as a variety of birds. Today the reserve continues to be instrumental in the monitoring and research of a variety of species and has proved to be an oasis of nature in a very busy and regulated world. So take time out to visit Askaniya-Nova Biosphere Reserve the next time you visit Ukraine.

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