Ukraine: Askania-Nova Biosphere Reserve

Askania-Nova Biosphere Reserve preserve the last remaining piece of virgin never-ploughed steppe in Europe, 110 sq km of it. The land is absolutely flat to horizon without a single tree, covered with myriads of steppe wildflowers. The nature reserve was established back in 1898 by a German biologist Fredrick Jacob Falz-Fein who bought this vast land from the tzar to create a German colony here and also to create a one-or a kind place for rare animals and plants. The land was confiscated by the Red Army in 1919 and all German were either killed or evicted. Since then it was a State Steppe Reserve during the Soviet times. When the German biologist Fredrick Jacob Falz-Fein bought acres and acres of wild steppe from the Russian tzar in 1898, his idea was to create a reserve with animals from all over the world. The steppe was quite reminiscent of the savanna habitat in Africa or the pampas in Australia. And that’s how the zoological portion of the reserve was created where the animals try to survive in semi wild environment of southern Ukraine. Here, you get to see a wide range of bird life and many antelopes, buffalo, bizon, camels, llama, emu, ostriches, zebras, and so on and so forth. This ain’t a zoo, but it’s not Africa either. There’s also a pseudo-safari option, which seemed cheesy and fake and we opted against it.