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Red deer in the misty dense woodland

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The Oostvaardersplassen is a nature reserve in the Netherlands. Despite its young age, it is in a polder which was only created in 1968, it already has international importance as a European wetland. The Oostvaardersplassen can be divided into two areas: wet and dry. Before the establishment of the reserve, the dry area was a nursery for willow trees, and in the first year hundreds of seedlings could be found on each square metre. This led to concern that a dense woodland would develop, significantly reducing the value of the habitat for water birds. To avoid this, the park's managers brought in a number of large herbivores to keep the area more open, including Konik horses, Red deer and Heck cattle. These large grazing animals are kept out in the open all year round without supplemental feeding, and are allowed to behave as wild animals without, for example, castrating males. The ecosystem developing under their influence is thought to resemble those that would have existed on European river banks and deltas before human disturbance. Twelve hundred of the estimated thirty-six hundred cattle, horses, and deer have perished from today's winter starvation. Scientists and managers have deemed the deaths normal. People are not very happy that the government is letting the animals die. They see the Oostvaardersplassen as more of a zoo than a wild space. Well, I think the managers are doing the right thing to maintain a healthy population within the park’s carrying capacity.


A photo of Red Deer late in the afternoon, it was the whole day foggy. Food is very hard to find in the harsh winter taken at the Dutch nature reserve Oostvaardersplassen. He was very busy and didn't notice me at first sneaking towards him. A handheld shot at 1/15s. F3.7, ISO400 and 310mm Zoom. After my 2nd photo shot he noticed me. You can see the tree in front where he eat the fibres of tree trunks. He must have been very hungry. The national park is located between Almere and Lelystad. I did enter at the Kottertocht entrance. It is hard to survive the winter. All animals are kept without supplemental winter feeding. Many Red deer and Konik horses already crossed the frozen water in search for food. Some horses were stucked due to their weight did crush the too thin ice. These Red Deer where consuming the fibres of tree trunks, because food is very hard to find, although it is not there daily nutrition. Especially when there is deep snow, lack of food causes starvation among the weak and the strongest will survive . So the survival of the fittest keeps the herds strong and healthy. Also Foxes, which are quite common in this reserve, profit from carcasses of deer, cows and birds in winter. Maybe in future a pack of Wolves could do a great job as natural predators in this part of Holland.


Een bezoek aan de Oostvaardersplassen is een kennismaking met het Nederland van duizenden jaren geleden. Een ongerept moerasgebied, met uitgestrekte plassen en woeste graslanden. De natuur mag er onbelemmerd haar gang gaan. Uniek in Nederland én in Europa. Natuurliefhebbers komen hier helemaal aan hun trekken. Vogels kijken op de plassen, een excursie naar de edelherten, een fotosafari naar de grote grazers. Of maak een rustige wandeling naar een van de vogelobservatiehutten. De Oostvaardersplassen zijn het grootste moerasgebied van Nederland. De weidsheid is ongekend en de natuur heeft er vrij spel. Ontelbare vogels hebben bezit genomen van het gebied. Vooral in de winter is dat een spectaculair gezicht. Het witte besneeuwde winterlandschap is indrukwekkend kaal en stil. De natuur is er nog jong. Toch is het nu al een natuurgebied van internationale allure. De bomen, struiken en bossen zitten vol vogels, zoogdieren en insecten. Grauwe ganzen grazen in het moeras. En de honderden Heckrunderen, konikpaarden en edelherten geven het gebied een haast on-Nederlandse aanblik. Staatsbosbeheer verwacht dat door de strenge winter dit jaar 30 procent van de edelherten, heckrunderen en konikpaarden in het natuurgebied de Oostvaardersplassen dood gaan. Het gaat om ongeveer 1200 dieren. Op zich is 30 procent niet meer dan in voorgaande jaren", aldus Staatsbosbeheer. ,,Maar de kuddes zijn door de zachte omstandigheden van de afgelopen jaren flink gegroeid. In absolute cijfers is het aantal dieren dat dood gaat daarom wel hoger dan normaal." Voor de winter liepen er in het natuurgebied ongeveer 570 heckrunderen, 1140 konikpaarden en 2320 edelherten. In de winter is de sterfte, vooral onder jonge dieren, groot. In de Oostvaardersplassen worden ernstig verzwakte dieren die toch zouden sterven afgeschoten. Zo wordt hen nodeloos lijden bespaard.


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Taken on February 6, 2010