New Askaniya nature preserve

(German colony outside Kherson, Ukraine)

In 1919 the Red Army was killing landowners of estates across Ukraine. In the German colony of New Askaniya, Sofia-Louise Bohdanivna Knauff owned a large estate that her family had turned into a nature and wildlife preserve. From buffalo to deer to Ostriches and Peacocks, the estate was open for the public to enjoy with hiking trails and opportunities to picnic and enjoy nature.

new askaniya anna sign
Fearing that the communists would not care for the wildlife and the preserve her family had created, she refused to turn over the property for which she was shot on the spot.

New Askaniya founder Friedrich-Jacob Eduardovych Falz-Fein.
New Askaniya founder Friedrich-Jacob Eduardovych Falz-Fein.

The new Soviet state turned the estate into a reserve for researching plant life on the Ukrainian steppes and over time began to reintroduce the animals which the founders had once protected.

New Askaniya anna m

New Askaniya anna park 2

Located near Kherson, New Askaniya Park remains a haven for wildlife and a treasure for the Ukrainian people. The ducks seem happy to swim in the ponds and the buffalo are content to graze on the rich grasslands of the estate.

New Askaniya anna l

The founder, Friedrich Falz-Fein was the first zoologist in the world to implement a model of natural reserve to be later recognized by UNESCO as the prototypical structure of a biosphere reserve in 1972.

No, those aren’t retired football referees, those are real Zebras!

new askaniya anna zebra

New Askaniya anna buffalo

The largest bio-sphere of this kind in Europe, the estate covers 825 km² (318.5 sq mi). New Askaniya is officially one of the seven wonders of Ukraine.

(Photo tribute to photographer extraordinaire Anna Panchenko)