The Living Legacy of Rome
Tucked into the far reaches southwestern Hungary is the village of Lábod. For a nation known for seemingly endless agricultural plains stretching across the Carpathian Basin, woodlands that surround Lábod are a pleasant surprise and not as rare as one might think.
Stereotyping a nation the size of Hungary, as largely flat and featureless is an exercise in mythmaking. To be honest, large swathes of the country do meet this description. After all, there was a reason Hungary was once known as the breadbasket of Central Europe.
After all 70% of Hungary’s land is considered suitable for agriculture. Yet 19% of the country is forested. That does not sound like much until you realize there are enough trees here to cover 85% of neighboring Slovenia.
The area around Lábod is a reminder that despite radical changes to the natural ecology of Hungary over the past two thousand years there are still places filled with wildlife. Lábod is best known for the phenomenal hunting on offer in the surrounding woods.
It is here where deer flourish. Huntsmen come from all over the country to try and bag these elusive creatures.The natural landscape of Hungary is full of surprises and that also goes for the forests surrounding Lábod.Here you can find one of the last living remnants of the Roman Empire. There are no magnificent ruins of once thriving cities hidden beneath the leafy foliage.
There are no vestiges of ancient shrines to emperors who once ruled most of the civilized world, but are now just footnotes in a history book. Instead, what still gallops through these woods, hides in the brush and suddenly appears at sunset and dusk is a miracle of nature, the fallow deer.
Two thousand years ago there were no fallow deer in what is today southern Hungary. The last ice age, thousands of years before had wiped out the entire population. The Romans conquering eastward in the first century AD moved into the land they would call Pannonia. After settling the area they decided to reintroduce the fallow deer.
They brought herds from the Mediterranean region where it still survived. The fallow deer thrived in this landscape. Since that time it has outlived the Romans by sixteen hundred years, even the Magyars have been in Hungary nine hundred years less than the fallow deer.
People come from all over Europe and even the world to hunt these magnificent creatures, but you don’t have to be a hunter to catch a glimpse of these primeval creatures. Keep your eyes open while traveling throughout the area.
What you just might see is a force of nature. The fallow deer’s chestnut coat showcases white spots in the summer, while in the winter those spots fade as the coat turns darker. The bucks have a charismatic look about them, with their broad, shovel shaped antlers.
They can cover five meters in a single bound. Best of all, your chance of seeing one is greatly increased by the fact that Hungary has one of the world’s largest populations. The Romans could never have imagined such, but today their legacy lives and breeds in the deep forests around Lábod.
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