Duna-Dráva National Park

High banks, Wild Cats and Oxbow Lakes

  • Location: Croatian and Serbian state border, Hungarian part of Dráva River, Hungary
  • Size: 50,000 hectares
  • Established: 1996

A wild cat stalks silently across the sandy grassland, its eyes alert and still looking for the field mouse it just spotted a moment ago. The mouse is gone but the cat spots another interesting movement. The shadow of a white tailed eagle who has also found interest in the mouse. The wild cat looks up and watches the eagle fly by, just a few metres above, headed towards the nearby oxbow lake.

The Danube-Dráva National Park is an alluvial plain divided by a flood prevention dyke. Before the regulations the river followed a course with wide bends which gradually cut themselves off and created a succession of dead branches and oxbows along the main bed. Areas in between the side-branch and the main bed have developed into extensive islands, some of them 15 kilometres long. Characteristic small canals have formed naturally in the spectacular high banks, through which water bodies, dead branches and depressions are interconnected with each other. Acidic sandy grasslands with isolated bogs in between sandy ridges follow gully-like erosive valleys cut deeply in the low hilly region of the Zákány-Őrtilos Hills.