Bisons are coming back to the Romanian Carpathians



Posted on 07 February 2014  | 
European bison (Bison bonasus).
European bison (Bison bonasus).
© WWF-Canon / SANCHEZ & LOPEEnlarge
Bucharest – WWF is preparing to reintroduce bisons this spring in the Romanian Tarcu Mountains. They will be released in an area where at first they will be partly free, but later the species will have complete freedom. Armenis village will be hosting the first bisons (Bison bonasus) coming from several European countries. In a few years time they will live in the wild.

The bisons will be released in special places in May. This is part of Rewilding Europe - a unique initiative of WWF, Wild Wonders of Europe, Ark Nature and Conservation Capital. The program aims to fill with wildlife a million hectares of land which is temporarily or permanently abandoned or simply not used at present. Of the five chosen model areas, two are in Romania – the Danube Delta and the Carpathian mountains.

A new beginning

For bisons - By Rewilding Europe, WWF aims to diversify the genetic pool of species in Romania including bison by facilitating exchanges of specimens between reserves in the country and the rest of Europe, to avoid inbreeding and spoilage.

For wildlife - The project covers a vast area comprising of Retezat National Park, Domogled-Valea Cernei National Park and Tarcu Mountains Natura 2000 site. The reintroduction of the bison in Tarcu is only part of the plan to protect wilderness in the area, one of the richest in Europe.

For humans - In addition to creating wilderness areas to serve as models of nature conservation, the project will stimulate the development of new sustainable rural economy based on the natural and cultural values of the area. This will be an alternative to the current economy , sometimes characterized by illegal activities and overexploitation of natural resources in times of crisis.

In the medium term, the area can become a tourist attraction for enthusiasts observing wild animals, which can create jobs for the local community. The project team evaluates potential development in wildlife-based business and prepares strategies to encourage entrepreneurship, including granting of financial loans.

“WWF aims to protect natural values in the wildest areas of the Southern Carpathians and their recovery where they were lost. We involve local communities in specific activities to protect nature by stimulating their development in harmony with nature. This increases local pride without loss of traditional lifestyle and local nature conservation takes on a new meaning”, says Adrian Hăgătiş, project manager at WWF.

Local partnership , the key to long term success

The bisons will rest by the village of Armenis, near Tarcu Mountains Natura 2000 site. The local council gave about 75 hectares of communal pastures to the project. It's an invaluable support from the local community that recognizes the benefits of such a project to the area. Caras-Severin Forestry Department and the Teregova Forestry Department provided the other 80 ha for the project.
European bison (Bison bonasus).
European bison (Bison bonasus).
© WWF-Canon / SANCHEZ & LOPE Enlarge
The area where the bisons will be released is being prepared
© WWF-Romania Enlarge
© Alexandru Ionescu, Parcul Naţional Domogled - Valea Cerne Enlarge
Rewilding Europe logo
Rewilding Europe logo
© Rewilding Europe Enlarge

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