Unspoilt nature, immense forests and wetlands are the hidden treasure of Poland. Check out where you can observe wild animals in their natural habitats.
Poland can be proud of its ecological corridor system – green belts that guarantee connectivity between animal habitats. This allows wild animals to migrate. The newly built road infrastructure is accompanied by a well-developed system of passages for animals. For example the A2 motorway connecting Warsaw with the German border has over 150 passages for wild animals: 26 for large animals, 12 for medium-sized, and 68 for the small ones. An additional 50 passages were provided for lizards and amphibians. This makes the Polish A2 motorway the most animal-friendly one in Europe. The A4 motorway in the south of Poland features similar facilities.
Poland’s proud: the Bison
The Bialowieza Primeval Forest is home to the largest herds of European Bisons in Europe with a free-ranging population of 522 Wisents. The easiest way to find them is during winter, when they leave there tracks in the snow and gather in larger herds. The Białowieza National Park protects the last remaining fragment of Europe’s primeval forest and is therefore an UNESCO World Heritage Site. Watch Bison and other wild animals on a web camera installed on the northern border of the Bialowieza Forest. You can also spot Bisons in the Bieszczady (south-eastern Poland) Here you will find the second-largest collection of wild bison in Poland. The growing herd has around 280 members. Other habitats of European Bison are in Masuria, in the Borecka Forest, and in western Pomerania (north-western Poland), in the Drawsko Forest.
The impressive autumn rut: top wildlife spectacle in Polish forests
Red deer are widespread and common in Poland, but are most easily observed in the Borecka Forest and Bialowieza Primeval Forest (both north-eastern Poland). They are most exciting to watch in autumn, when the rut begins. From the end of September until the end of October strange groaning and belching sounds will echo from clearings in the woods. In October you can watch red deer as they engage in fierce mating battles. Be careful: male deer are full of testosterone and therefore highly aggressive.
Large populations of moose (US: elk)
The Biebrza Marshes are Poland’s biggest moose habitat. The Biebrza National Park is home to around 400 moose, which can be easily spotted in the Red Bog nature reserve (Czerwone Bagno). The marshes in the north-east of Poland are a real rarity in Europe, given its pristine wetlands, wilderness, and few or no human settlements. In addition, the Biebrza Marshes offer shelter to 700 butterfly species, 500 beetle species and 450 spider species.
Once the Eurasian lynx was quite common in all of Europe. The most significant population of about 100 lynxes remained in the Carpathian mountains (in south-eastern Poland: the Bieszczady National Park, and in southern Poland: the Beskids). About 70 live in north-eastern Poland in the Bialowieza Primeval Forest and Augustów Forest (Piska and Napiwodzko-Ramuckich forests). As a result of the reintroduction in the 1990s, lynxes also live near Warsaw in the Kampinoski National Park.
Wolves tracking in stunning landscapes
Altough it is very hard to track wolves, you could be lucky to find some in Poland. It is estimated that around a thousand wolves live in Poland. The largest group of Polish wolves still inhabit the Carpathian mountains. A considerable number also live in the forests of north-eastern and eastern Poland, in the Bialowieza Primeval Forest and the regions of Podlasie, Warmia, Masuria (north-eastern Poland), Roztocze (south-eastern Poland). The famous Red Bog Reserve in the Biebrza National Park is home to wolves which live here in complete wilderness. The have their habitat in a stunning landscape with glacial sand dunes and marshes where also snakes and lizards are often found.
The number of wolves in western Poland, for example in the Lower Silesian Wilderness and the Drawsko Forest is growing. Here about 140 wolves live in 30 family groups, with an annual rate of increase of 38 %. The population in the Lower Silesian Wilderness is growing, at the moment 50 wolves live in the dense forests of the Bory Dolnośląskie. Wolves eat ungulates which are common in western Polish forests. The roe deer is the wolve’s favourite dish, followed by red deer and wild boar. Wolves from western polish territories even migrate to Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands.
Exceptional wetlands with beavers and otters
Due to its picturesque landscapes the Narew Valley is often called ‘the Polish Amazon’. It is one of the few river valleys that allows floodplains. Valuable habitats are: oxbow lakes, bogs and swamp forests (marshes, swamps and peat bogs). Each year in spring when the Narew river overflows, the area is inaccessible to humans. This provides favourable conditions for bird nesting. There are over 200 species of birds here, including endangered ones. You can easily spot beavers and otters. Visit the Narew National Park by kayak to discover this wonderful landscape from the water, so you can easily observe birds and other wild animals. The town of Uhowo is a convenient starting point for such a trip.
With an area of almost 600 square kilometres, the Biebrza National Park is Poland’s biggest national park covering the Biebrza river valley. The word Biebrza is probably derived from bóbr, which means beaver in Polish. The Biebrza Valley has several hiking and biking trails. But the most interesting way to discover this wetland is from a kayak or boat. Kayak equipment can be rented. You can have a rest near one of the many sheds and bonfire sites. Both river valleys are situated in north-eastern Poland.
Where the brown bear has it’s shelter
The mountainous area in southern Poland, the wild mountains of the Bieszczady, the alpine Tatra Mountains, Gorce mountains and the Beskids provide shelter to bears. According to WWF statistics around 80 of them live in the Bieszczady range. In the Tatra Mountains in the border area of Poland and Slovakia, there are about 45 bears. Scientists observed seasonal migration of bears: most bears spend the winter on the Slovakian side. Between May and August more bears are on the Polish (northern Tatra) side.
See the descendants of former wild forest horses
The densely-forested Roztocze National Park is famous for breeding Polish koniks, or Polish primitive horse. Koniks show many primitive markings, including a dun coat and dorsal stripe. In the 16th century the Polish noble man Jan Zamoyski created an art of zoological garden with deer, lynxes, boars, wildcats and tarpans. The zoo was closed at the turn of the 19th century. The Polish koniks are descendants of former wild forest horses – tarpans which were held in the zoo.
European pond turtle still can be found in Polish swamps and ponds
The Polesie National Park (eastern Poland) includes primeval swamps and peat bogs which are considered the most south-western situated tundra’s in Europe. The park is the habitat of the extremely rare European pond turtle, one of the most endangered reptile species. Pond turtles are also found in the Drawa National Park in north western Poland. Most of them live in the Żółwia Kłoć Reserve and open waters of Lake Ostrowiec.
Spotting wild animals around Poland’s capital Warsaw
Just outside the city of Warsaw the Kampinoski National Park, which covers the ancient Kampinos Forest (Puszcza Kampinoska), is located. In January 2000 the area was added to UNESCO’s list of biosphere reserves. Here Europe’s largest and best preserved inland dunes are found. In the neighbouring marshes you will find a lot of wild animals habitats, like moose, otter and beaver. If you are lucky you can even spot lynxes or wolves. More common species in the forest are wild boars, red deer, roe deer and raccoon dogs.