Cows prepared for a long, hard winter in OEMN Maramures



Posted on 16 October 2008  | 
Work is almost complete on the picturesque winter shelter for nature-conserving cows, built by OEMN partners at Rachita meadow, high up on the Maramures plateau above Baia Mare. This means that for the first time, the semi-wild herd will be able to spend the winter in natural conditions rather than boxed into sheds down in the nearby villages.

The shelter, which cost almost 80,000 Euros and which conforms to all ecological and nature conservation regulations and best practices, allows free access in and out for animals, meaning that they will only go in when the winter bites hardest. With temperatures sometimes dropping to -25 C, huddling together under the stone and wood structure will keep the animals alive as well as enhancing social interactions between the members of the herd.

„Last year, we had to bring the animals down because they had only recently be re-introduced into nature, and because the winter shed was not even started” explained Edit Pop, the WWF project manager for the initiative. „But when we tried, the lead females of the herd clearly did not want to leave the mountain pastures, and they turned back. Even with 5 men and 2 dogs, it was impossible to persuade them to swap their new home - natural habitat – for the lowlands. We had to leave them there and try again another day.”

The structure is designed to also accomodate humans: tourists can sleep in rooms located above the animal shelter, making a novel alternative to the nearby wooden cabana, which has already been intensively used by paying guests despite only opening for business in June. „People like to come and see the meadows, the cows, and the landscape” says Rodica Tiplea, who runs the business with her husband and other family members from the nearby village of Ocna Sugatag. „And we like to show them. The accomodation is made of traditional materials, furnished with local handicrafts, and everyone seems to enjoy the naturally-produced food and drink which we offer”. With foreign tourists already having visited from as far away as USA, UK, Canada, Sweden, Austria, Estonia, and Hungary, the Tiplea family is confident they will soon re-coup the investments they have made, and start to turn a profit.

Benefits for local people, benefits for nature, and benefits for business. These three features are typical of OEMN projects such as this one. Benefits for cows, who clearly enjoy their open-air lifestyle, are an added bonus.

Contact WWF for more details on how to replicate this project ..... and visit www.rmt.ro to see and book accomodation on the plateau.
New natural winter home for Maramures cows almost complete
© Csaba Vaszko/WWF Enlarge

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