Updated: Jun 13, 2019
Ever wondered what the flora and fauna that inspired all those Transylvanian stories looks like?
As you walk around the area where Bran Castle (also known as Dracula’s Castle) is located, it’s easy to understand that the surroundings of the castle make for that special chilling atmosphere as much as the construction itself. The castle is placed in a mountainous area, on top of a hill, and is surrounded by deep pine tree forests. When the full moon shines over this fairytale scenery, and lost bats circle the forested and misty peaks, one’s mystery chord is guaranteed to awaken.
“Transylvania” means “the land beyond the forests” and you will be dazzled by the natural sceneries as you explore Transylvania and especially by the rich flora and fauna to be found here. Most forests are made out of deciduous and coniferous trees, and the region is famous for some of the last surviving virgin forests, which made Prince Charles deeply fall in love with it.
Now that you've learnt a bit about the woods here, let’s look at some of the wild animal species that Transylvania and Romania are notorious for:
Romania has one of Europe’s largest brown bear concentration, with more than 6,000 bears living here, especially in the area of Brasov, where bears are known to live quite close to human settlements (yes, they even occasionally visit cities). Efforts are being made by local conservationists to protect these wonderful creatures and their habitat.
There are many wolves roaming around the forests and sometimes attacking herds of sheep, however the population is unfortunately decreasing, with only 2,500 left in the area, which is still an important number for Europe. Since wolves used to be much more numerous and have always been a threat to local shepherds, there are many campfire stories about them to be found in the folklore. Not to worry: there are no real werewolves, or none that we know of.
This is our favourite cat and the Romanian word for its name is the same we use for “laughter” (“ras”). Over 20% of the 10,000 European lynx population lives in Romania. This cute (yet deadly) predator is powerful, solitary as an adult and is mainly nocturnal.
Beautiful and proud, the Red Deer is one of the largest species of deer, with stags being especially impressive. Their imposing antlers make just about anyone wonder at their majestic figure.
Greater Noctule Bat
This is one of the rarest and largest existing species of bat. With a wingspan of almost 0.5 metres, it regularly preys on birds using echolocation, as opposed to most species of bats, which prefer insects. It’s safe to say that this is the bloodiest of all bats and it makes sense for it to live in Transylvania, therefore giving Dracula’s story the perfect opportunity for the Count’s metamorphosis into the flying mammal.
This is the heaviest land animal in Europe (it can weigh up to 1,000 kg), with overall very scarce populations surviving today. Romania’s bison population is slowly increasing.
This truly athletic goat-antelope is just the opposite of afraid of heights, as it thrives by performing impressive and energetic leaps on steep rocks. It has been a symbol for many Romanian associations and regions for a long time, and intense conservationist efforts seem to be paying off.
There are other beautiful animals to be found in Transylvania, such as the red fox, the Carpathian boar, the golden jackal etc. All these wonderful creatures are enriching the charm and wilderness of the region and inspiring many stories still.
Do you want to meet some real life shepherds and hear their (werewolf) stories? Book a sheperd experience with us.