Danube Delta - The ecological heart of eastern Europe, and one of the largest wetlands represented by reedbeds, water channels, numerous lakes, flooded forests, meadows, marshes, sand, and remnants of the steppes. At approximately 2860 km, the Danube River is the second longest river basin area in Europe. The Danube Delta has a total area of 4180 km2, of which 82% is located in Romania and the other 18% in Ukraine. The densely populated and highly-developed Danube Delta is a haven of wildlife, and was recently added to the Ramsar Convention list of wetlands of international importance. Moreover, the Danube Delta is considered by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) as one of the 200 most valuable and endangered wetland areas in the world’s eco-regions. (WWF Global 200).
The Delta Kili branch starts below Cape Ismail Catal, where the river is divided into the Kili sleeve (which forms the border with Romania and 49% of the flow of water) and the Tulchinsky sleeve. The Kiliya delta, located below Vylkove, is the newest part of the Danube and has been created by sediment of the Danube in the last 400 years. The Kiliya Danube Delta is a place where the earth's land confidently occurs at sea and grows due to the alluvium of river silt. In a medium long drain, about 204 km2, the Danube River brings approximately 42 to 84 million tons of silt to the delta annually.
The decision of the International Coordinating Committee of UNESCO Man and Biosphere Program on December 9, 1998 was included in the World Network of Biosphere Reserves to form the bilateral Romanian-Ukrainian Biosphere Reserve "Danube Delta". The total area of the Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve is approximately 50,252.9 hectares.
The Danube Biosphere Reserve hosts a large number of rare plants and animals from the Red Book of Ukraine as well as other international red lists of Europe. It is still possible to see solid thickets of rare white lilies as well as large concentrations of the dwindling pelican population in the Danube Delta.
The area hosts 1,557 species of plants, of which 966, or 19.32% are considered higher vascular plants of Ukraine. The Red Book of Ukraine registered 26 species, while the European Red List includes an additional 10 species.
Within the reserve there are more than 800 species of insects. Of those listed in the Red Book of Ukraine some include the hermit beetle, krasotil fragrant, soto dead head, skoliya giant styz, and the striped ant lion-akantoklizis among others.
In the area of the reserve, so far 106 species of fish have been recorded, of which 24 species have been included in the Red Book of Ukraine such as sturgeon, salmon danube, black sea salmon, sturgeon atlantic, umber, ruff striped, and beluga as an example. An additional 7 have been included in the European Red List. The most valuable fish species in this area are sturgeon and Danube herring.
Among the amphibians the most numerous are the lake and edible frog, the common frog and the Danube newt. Among the reptiles the swamp tortoise and ordinary serpent are most common. So far there are 11 species of amphibians and 6 species of reptiles recorded.
276 species of birds reside in the reserve. The Danube Delta provides refuge to yellow herons, great and small white herons, gray and red herons, Night Heron and more. The Red Book includes 60 species: cormorant small, white-tailed eagle, shearer, pelican pink korovayka, and hodulychnyk among many others.
43 different species of mammals have been found in the reserve, 19 of which are included in the Red Book of Ukraine. Otter, wild cat, monk seals, dolphins, beaked, bottlenose dolphin and porpoise are some examples. For some of these creatures - such as the European mink and leopard cat, the Danube Delta lands are very important for their survival on a European scale.
The City Vilkovo, which is the original capital of the Ukrainian part of the Danube Delta has had a rich and distinctive culture for more than two and a half centuries. Local people have not only maintained the traditions, customs, peculiar dialect and religious beliefs of the area, but also have become an integral part of caring for the environment.