Maiella National Park
|Parco Nazionale della Majella|
|Area||628.38 km2 (242.62 sq mi)|
|Governing body||Ministero dell'Ambiente|
It is centered on the Majella massif, whose highest peak is Monte Amaro (2,793 m).
The area of the Majella national Park (740.95 km²), especially the Montagna della Majella, has been subject to a major international geoscientific research Project, TaskForceMajella from 1998 up to 2005.
The park contains about 500 kilometres of hiking trails through the mountains, cave paintings in Grotta Sant'Angelo and Grotta del Cavallone (the latter being one of the deepest caves in Europe open to the public).
Tourist centers located in the park include:
- Maurizio Locati Visitor Center, Colle Madonna, Lama dei Peligni - sections dedicated to chamois, archeology, a reconstruction of a Neolithic village, and the Giardino Botanico Michele Tenore.
- Museo Naturalistico at Fara San Martino.
- Paolo Barrasso Visitor Center at Caramanico Terme. It houses geology sections including fossils discovered on the Majella Mountain, and archaeologic findings from the Upper Paleolithic to the Roman age.
- Giardino Botanico Daniela Brescia at Sant'Eufemia a Maiella -
The Majella National park is maybe one of the best preserved apennine ecosystems. Due to its altitude, inaccessibility and prominence most of the park's territories are uninhabited and so the human-made structures, including skiing resorts and roads, are fewer than those in other national parks of Italy. This condition favored the apennine wildlife which is shown here in all its greatness. The most representative animal of the Majella territories is the Apennine wolf which is also present in the park's logo and it relies on a population of 100 estimated wolves distributed in eleven packs across the main mountain ranges of the protected area. GPS-collars are applied to 17 wolves for ongoing monitoring. It is believed that the wolf population density of the Majella national park is one of the highest in Italy and in the world even if compared to Yellowstone national park.
Notable also the presence of species of the following animals:
- In the high slopes the Abruzzo chamois (Rupicapra pyrenaica ornata) which has been reintroduced, after decades of absence, during 1991 thanks to a repopulation program carried up by the Abruzzo national park authorities;
- The Marsican brown bear (Ursus arctos marsicanus) is regularly present in the national park's beech forests and neighbouring areas, with estimated 20 individuals, representing one of the biggest concentration of bears in one protected area of Central Italy;
- The Golden eagle, with six breeding couples;
- The red and roe deer which have also been reintroduced in the park after the WWII, when they were extinct throughout the Central Apennines.
Finally other mammals that thrive in the dense forests that surround the majella massif are the wild boar, the Italian hare, the pine marten, the wild cat, the red fox, the european badger and the rare otter.
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