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Mountain Ainos | Discover the Highest Mountain of Ionian Islands & Meet the Wild Horses


Kefalonia Wild Nature | Mount Ainos or the Black Mountain

 

The Ainos Mountain range, which has a crest of approximately 14 km and has a south easterly direction, overlooks the island. Its wealth of native and rare species of flora and fauna, but also the need to protect the Cephalonian fir-free forest (black fir-tree, abies cephalonica) led to a large area of the mountain being designated as a National Park in 1962. The National park has an area of 2.862 hectares. The first section reaches up to the highest peak of Mega Soros and the second includes part of the neighbouring Mount Roudi. The Cephalonian fir-tree can be found throughout almost all the area, although most of the native Cephalonian species are also encountered.

The Venetians called Mount Aino ‘’Elatovouni of Mavrovouni’’ (Monte Nero) because of the deep green colour of a fir tree that densely covered the mountain slopes. For the Cephalonians, however, Mount Ainos will always be the island’s ‘’Big Mountain’’, an element of nature that inspired myths and legend. Stories created by folklore imagination exist to this day constituting a valuable element of its cultural inheritance.

General information

The national Pak of Mt. Ainos consists of an area of 2,862 ha , which includes Mt. Ainos and the adjacent Mt.Roudi. Its main feature is the Cephalonia Fir forest (Abies cephalonica Lounon),which is unique for the Ionian Islands and constitutes the reason for the designation of the National Park in 1962.

Mt. Ainos , standing at a height of 1,628 m is the tallest mountain in the Ionian Islands , whereas Mt.Roudi reaches 1,125 m .

In recognition of its significance at a European level , the National Park has been designated as a European Biogenetic Reserve , belongs to the " Natura 2000" European Ecological Network of Protected Areas (GR2220002) and is a special Protected Area for the protection of the avifauna(GR2220006). It has also been declare as a Wildlife Reserve.

The management Body of Mt.Ainos National Park was established in 2002, its purpose being is to manage , protect and bring attention to the Natinal Park.

Education / Awareness

The Management Body of the National Park of Mt.Ainos conducts Environmental education /awareness activities in the National Park,as well as at Koutavos lagoon, where its offices are located (Center of Environmental Education of Koutavos lagoon , Argostoli , Cephalonia Isl.) .

The center is open to the public on a daily basis ( Monday-Friday) from 8:30 to 16:00 and, following prior arrangement , during other days and times in the week .

The personnel of the Management Body is regularly organizing seminars, meetings and tours in the National Park of Mt.Ainos , thus offering visitors a memorable experience in a marvelous Fir forest with many endemic and rare plant and animal species .

Flora

More than 400 plant species have been recorded within the boundaries

of the National Park. Some of them are Cephalonian , Ionian , Greek endemics or rare plants

that require protection .

The largest part of the National Park is dominated by the forest of Abies cephalonica ( Cephalonica fir ), which is a Greek andemic species.

A number of other trees have been recorded , i.e Pyrus Amygaliformis (Almond Leaved Pear ), Crataegus monogyna subsp. monogyna ( Hawthorn), Quercus ilex (Holm Oak ), Arbutus andrachne and A.unedo (Strawberry trees )etc.

Among the most important herbaceous species of the National Park, one encounter steno - endemics of the highest peaks of Mt. Ainos such as Viola cephalonica ( Cephalonian Violet )and Scutellaria rupestris subsp.cephalonica (Cephalonian Skullcap), the Cephalonian endemics Saponaria aenesia (Soapwort of Ainos )and ajuga arientalis subsp.cephallenica ( Bellflower), Centaurea subciliaris subsp.subciliaris , Cerastium illirycum subsp. illirycum.

There also occur remarkable plants, such as Thymus holosericeus , an Ionian endemic , Coridothymus capitatus(Thymes ) and Origanum vulgare subsp.Hirtum (Oregano ).

Fauna

More than 100 birds species have been recorded , one third of which are permanent residents of the National Park , including :Circaetus gallicus (Short Toed Snake Eagle ), Falco biarmicus (Lanner Falcon ), Pernis apivorus (European Honey Buzzard ),Accipiter gentilis (Gowshawk ), Athene noctua (Little Owl ), Buteo buteo (Common Buzzard ), Alectoris graeca (Rock Partridge),Emperiza caesia (Cretzsch-man''''s Bunting )etc.

Representative reptile species to be found in the National Park during a visit are:

Algyroides nigropunctatus subsp. kephallithacius endemic  of Cephalonia & Ithaca , Algyroides (Greek Algyroides ),an Ionian and Peloponnesian endemic,Podacris tauricus subsp. ionica (Balan Wall Lizard ),a Balkan endemic , Vipera ammodytes(Viper) etc.

The mammalian species that inhabit the National Park , are typical forest ecosystem species , such as : Apodemus flaviciollis ( Yellow-necked Mouse ),Apodemus epimelas (Rock Mouse ), Myoxus glis (Edible Dormouse ),Lepus Europeaus (Hare), Martes foina (Stone Marten )etc. One of the most peculiar mammals of Mt.Ainos is the insectivore Talpa stankovici (Mole) that lives underground .It constructs an extensive network of burrows and reveals its presence by surface soil mounds .

The caves of the National Park are inhabited by very important and bat species ,such Rhinolophus ferrumequinum (Greater Horseshoe Bat ), Miniopterus  schreibersii(Schreiber''''s Bat )etc.

The National Park lacks large mammals , with the notable exception of a herd of semi-wild Horses (equus caballus ), that live freely in the wider area of the Zoodoho''''s Pigi Monastery.

 

 

 

 

 
 
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