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Uccello Licenziata

When it comes to fauna, Pollino National Park can be easily declared one of the most important areas in southern Italy.

It’s not just the environment, it’s the geography, which combined together offer a large example of biodiversity.

Amongst insects, we cannot ignore the Buprestis splendens, which is one of the rarest beetles in Europe, and the Rosalia alpina, which is a beautiful beetle species whose blue cinder color with black dots makes it all the more interesting. This particular beetle is typical of beech woods, therefore it mostly lives on Pollino and Orsomarso mountains; usually its presence testifies a low level of variation of the woods.
Amongst the various types of butterfly that live in this area, there’s the Melanargia arge, which lives only in very specific places and only in small groups. Where the climate is more arid, there’s a large presence of Latrodectes tredecimguttatus, a red and black spider whose bite is particularly poisonous and painful: it belongs to the same family of the American black widow, in fact it’s often also called European black widow. Pollino National Park is also known for being the home of the Chirocephalus ruffoi, a particular crustacean that can be found only in some puddles at high-altitudes. Whenever the Austropotamobius pallipes is present, it means waters are high quality.

Pollino National Park also counts a few amphibians: Italian crested newt (Triturus carnifex), spectacled salamander (Salamandrina terdigitata), Apennine yellow-bellied toad (Bombina variegata pachypus), tree frog (Hyla intermedia).
The reptiles. Pollino National Park is also the home of two endangered turtles: the European pond turtle (Emys orbicularis), a small carnivorous turtle whose presence is unusually conspicuous in this area; and Hermann’s tortoise (Testudo hermanni). There are also snakes: four-lined snake (Elaphe quatuorlineata), leopard snake (Elaphe situla), and asp (Vipera aspis).

The avifauna is just as much conspicuous at Polino National Park: rock partridge (Alectoris graeca), an endangered species that has found peace only here; black woodpecker (Dryocopus martius), green woodpecker (Picus viridis), big red woodpecker (Picoides major). Particularly interesting is the fact that in the Petrosa steppe, live the five main species of skylark. It has been recently discovered that the Park also gives home to the red-billed chough (Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax).

There are 12 species of nesting predatory birds that live in Pollino National Park: golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos), of which there are only a few specimens in the southern side; red kite (Milvus milvus), peregrine falcon (Falco peregrines). The eastern side of the Park, with its arid climate and rock walls, is the perfect habitat for two endangered species such as the lanner falcon (Falco biarmicus feldeggi), which usually lives in the Mediterranean area, and the Egyptian vulture (Neophron percnopterus), which is a black and white small vulture of which only a few specimens are left in Italy. The rarest and most beautiful nocturnal predatory bird is the Eurasian eagle-owl (Bubo bubo).

The mammal fauna of Pollino National Park seems to beautifully include all the main species that live on the southern Apennine. The carnivores living in the area are: wolf (canis lupus) and wildcat (Felis silvestris), which are present in unknown numbers and places; marten (Martes martes), skunk (Mustela putorius), and otter (lutra lutra); the latter one is known to live by the river, where preys are more abundant and vegetation offers a good hiding place.
There are also ungulates: boar (Sus scrofa), roe deer (Capreolus capreolus), whose colony on Mount Orsomarso seems to be one of the few indigenous ones in Italy. Pollino National Park’s rodent population includes members of the Gliridae family: forest dormouse (Dryomys nitedula), which usually lives either on Calabria’s mountains or on the Alps; hazel dormouse (Muscardinus avellanarius); edible dormouse (Myoxus glis); garden dormouse (Eliomys quercinus). A rodent that is typical of the mid-southern Apennine is the Sciurus vulgaris meridionalis, a squirrel whose main features are the black back and the white belly. Another rodent that lives in Pollino National Park is the porcupine (Hystix cristata), which is mostly located in the south-eastern side. Finally, we have the European hare (Lepus europaeus), which was recklessly brought to the Park, and the Apennine hare (Lepus corsicanus), which is instead an indigenous species.

There are also bats, even though they haven’t been given much attention: lesser horseshoe bat (Rhinolophus hipposideros), greater mouse-eared bat (Myotis myotis), long-fingered bat (Myotis capaccinii), Kuhl’s pipistrelle (Pipistrellus kuhli), common bent-wing bat (Miniopterus schreibersii), European free-tailed bat (Talarida teniotis).

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