Our region is home to a rich biodiversity, and thanks to the wide variety of its landscapes, the fauna that occupies it presents lovers of animal observation with great challenges. Midi Libre reviews for you the ten largest wild mammals living in Occitania, from the sea to the mountains. Keep an eye out and do not forget your binoculars on your next nature excursions.
Climbing master, you will have to look up to see it, in the steep surfaces of the Pyrenees or in Aveyron. The chamois, a small ungulate there weighs on average about forty kilos and measures up to 80 centimeters at the withers for men. Its population in Occitania is much lower than in the alpine regions. The chamois seem to live there more sparingly and are primarily observable in the summer.
9. The wolf
He spills ink wherever he is. Difficult to observe, the presence of the wolf is nevertheless proven in Occitania, which currently has eight permanent populations, as evidenced by the wolf-los observation network from the French Office of Biodiversity. The European wolf can weigh up to almost 40 kilosfor male specimens.
The star of the Héric Gorges, the mouflon is easy to observe in the Caroux massif or in Aigoual, where it moves in droves with the cubs in the spring. With their rounded horns, these mammals, ancestors of domestic sheep, can weigh fifty pounds.
We stay in the horned species that like steep areas. The Iberian ibex inhabits essentially the Pyrenees. In an article from the end of 2020, France Bleu reports that there are currently 170 specimens in the region since its successful reintroduction from 2013. Impressive for a goat, the ibex can weigh up to 70 kilos and its horns can measure up to one meter !
6. Wild boar
Perhaps the easiest to observe on the list, the wild boar lives in the forests and scrub areas of Occitania. Be careful on the small roads in the summer at night, the collision with a boar can have serious consequences thenan adult can reach a hundred kilos. This season, wild boar sometimes accompanies the adults. Beautiful images in perspective if you have patience and discretion.
5. The deer
The king of the forest, with its majestic forests that can measure almost a meter. The deer, which is easier to observe during the roar, which usually begins in mid-September, can weigh up to 200 pounds. A majestic animal that offers magnificent performances during its reproduction to the most tenacious observers. Every year it loses its antlers, which grow a little bigger again the following season.
We are fortunate in Occitania to be the French region with the highest density of bears. To see it, head to the Pyrenees, where 64 bears live, according to the latest report from the Brown Bear Network. Very impressive in size, the brown bear standing on its two hind legs, can reach 1.70 to 2 meters and weigh up to 230 kilos for specimens from southern Europe, making it the largest land mammal in France.
What to do if you come across a bear?
If meetings are very rare, they can still happen on a hike. If you surprise a bear, you are near a female with her cubs, or your dog has an argument with a bear and gets closer to you, here is the attitude you need to take to limit the risk of attack.
- Keep calm and do not start screaming,
- Speak softly or whistle to signal your presence and avoid the effect of surprise in the animal,
- Keep your dog close to you to prevent the bear from getting out,
- Move slowly away, without sudden movements.
As the bear is the largest land mammal in France, we now have to jump into the water to finish this top 10 of the largest animals to observe in Occitania. Direction towards the shores of the Mediterranean, which sometimes approach the various species of dolphins that inhabit the great blue. With luck, you will be able to witness the acrobatic ballet of the bottlenose dolphins, the most impressive species, with individuals who can weigh up to 650 kilos.
It will be difficult to choose between the last two colossi of the oceans, the sperm whale and the fin whale are the largest marine mammals in the Mediterranean. The sperm whale in our region is nevertheless a little smaller than in other parts of the world. Still, it can measure up to 16 feet and weighs about thirty tons, according to cetaceans.org. It can be observed quite offshore and it is discovered thanks to its breath.
The fin whale
The ocean mastodon, the second largest animal on earth, the rorqual is also present in the Mediterranean and therefore undoubtedly holds the top of our rankings. The fin whale can reach twenty meters and 40 tons. You will also need to watch your breath to observe it, and the highlight of the show is watching a jump. For this you have to be lucky, for the most part you only see its back, which already says a lot about the dimensions of the animal.