The national park in the area where the Guadalquivir flows into the Atlantic is one of the largest nature reserves in Europe. It is made up of mighty dunes and flat wetlands, which are a paradise for many species of birds such as flamingos. The rich fauna in the reserve also includes the largest population of the threatened Iberian lynx and wild horses.
Doñana National Park: facts
|Official title:||Doñana National Park (Andalusia)|
|Natural monument:||for 700 years hunting ground for Spanish noblemen; National park since 1969, UNESCO biosphere reserve surrounded by the Guadalquivir since 1980; a 54,252 hectare nature and national park through which the Guadiamar flows, with dunes, lagoons, wetlands, swamps|
|Location:||on the southwest coast of Spain, between Seville, Huelva and Cádiz|
|Appointment:||1994; 2005 expanded|
|Meaning:||one of the most important wetlands in Europe|
|Flora and fauna:||750 plant species, including 45 endangered plants in Europe; 8 fish species, 10 amphibian species such as the Moorish tortoise, inverted-nosed vipers as one of 19 reptile species; 30 species of mammals, including Red deer, otter, red fox, gorse and wild cat, the common ichneumon, which belongs to the crawling cats (mongooses / mongooses), and 40 rare Iberian lynx; 360 species of birds; up to 200,000 teals and up to 100,000 wigeons; also habitat for up to 20,000 flamingos|
The flight of the flamingos
In the delta area of the Río Guadalquivir there is a very important wetland of Europe, which is nevertheless threatened by advancing civilization. It is a mosaic of lagoons, bush forests, Atlantic beaches, shifting dunes and swamps.
Here flamingos find an indispensable habitat for them. They stalk around in large groups, lead their screeching beaks through the shallow water in search of food and suddenly rise up as a pink cloud in the bright blue sky over Andalusia. Master Adebar woos his loved one with his head reclined, beak clattering. The not very sociable black stork draws attention to itself with its call “hi-lih-hi-lih”. The gray feathered crane meanwhile starts his trumpeting “krürr, krürr”. Not far from him, little egrets go fishing. Spoonbills search the waters for something to eat with a spoon-like beak. Deep blue chickens and black coots are also guests of the extensive wetlands. Thousands of gray geese chatter there, while teal and red crested ducks roam undisturbed. Some imperial eagles, red kites and griffon vultures circle above the treetops of gnarled cork oaks, slightly fragrant eucalyptus trees and pines. When night falls over Doñana, other residents become active: the now rare Iberian lynx, master Reineke fox and the small-spotted gorse cat, which has mastered the nocturnal crawl to perfection.
A specialty among the mammals is the Ichneumon, a crawling cat belonging to the mongoose, which was revered in Egypt as the “rat of the pharaohs” and adorns frescoes and reliefs in the temples of Thebes and Saqqara. The “tracker” – the translation of the name “Ichneumon” – relies on his particularly keen sense of smell to prey on insects, worms, lizards, ducks and snakes.
In addition to pines, jade trees and cork oaks, doñana National Park, which is enclosed by the Entorno de Doñana Nature Park, thrives on mastic bushes, rock roses, juniper, lavender and heather.
Doñana’s history goes back to the Middle Ages, when there was an extensive hunting area for various noble families. In the middle of this area, Countess Doña Ana, who gave the park its name, built a magnificent mansion. At the beginning of the 19th century, when the land was owned by the Prince of Tarifa, it is said that the hunting guards earned a princely extra income through poaching. If their master was absent, they captured and sold the skins of lynxes and gorse cats, the claws of eagles and the skins of snakes. In order to be able to eat a piece of tasty meat every now and then, the farmers in the area also pursued poaching. They primarily targeted ducks and crayfish. The preference of King Alfonso XIII, who indulged his passion for hunting in Doñana,
And in our time? Despite the now regulated stream of visitors and the dedicated rearing of Iberian lynxes, according to hyperrestaurant, Spain’s flagship park is still in danger: sometimes hunters are caught red-handed poaching, sometimes the damming of the Guadalquivir is under discussion. It does not seem to be enough that Doñana comes across exactly the Pentecostal pilgrimage site El Rocío and the holiday settlement Matalascañas, which has been pounded out of the retort. In the company of the park staff, tourist land tours through the sensitive dune belt are allowed. An environmental disaster that occurred in 1998 had a devastating effect. Despite the construction of emergency dams and the closure of numerous locks, after the dam broke, a catchment basin for highly toxic wastewater from a nearby pyrite mine, the Guadiamar River, the main source of water in Doñana National Park, polluting several thousand hectares of land. In addition to orchards and arable land, the local flora and fauna were also badly damaged. Numerous dead sea birds and around 20 tons of dead fish were only the first consequences of this far-reaching environmental pollution. The mine operators and responsible politicians tried to use remedial measures such as the removal of the top layers of the earth and compensation payments to distract from the fact that Europe’s largest bird sanctuary was being irrevocably damaged. Numerous dead sea birds and around 20 tons of dead fish were only the first consequences of this far-reaching environmental pollution. The mine operators and responsible politicians tried to use remedial measures such as the removal of the top layers of the earth and compensation payments to distract from the fact that Europe’s largest bird sanctuary was being irrevocably damaged. Numerous dead sea birds and around 20 tons of dead fish were only the first consequences of this far-reaching environmental pollution. The mine operators and responsible politicians tried to use remedial measures such as the removal of the top layers of the earth and compensation payments to distract from the fact that Europe’s largest bird sanctuary was being irrevocably damaged.
But further adversity threatens: At the beginning of 2013, the Spanish Ministry of Agriculture approved the construction of a gas pipeline across the nature reserve. The planned dredging of the Guadalquivir, the excessive water abstraction and the pollution of the groundwater by the numerous strawberry plantations in the area surrounding the nature reserve represent further dangers for the protected area.