Posted on 29 January 2020
Grey Wolf, Colourful Village – A Hunter’s Story
“The wolf stepped out of the pine forest 60-70 metres from me... It was an image out of a storybook
There are approximately 12,000 wolves living in Europe (excluding Russia). Protecting large carnivores and their habitats is a key element of WWF’s New Deal for Nature and People
, and its goal to halt and reverse biodiversity and habitat loss by 2030. Within its framework we will concentrate on protecting the natural habitats of large carnivores, including their ecological corridors and on avoiding unsustainable management practices. In addition, we will improve connectivity at the landscape level, reducing illegal killing and promoting sustainable use of natural resources.
Hunter Tamás Erdős tells the story about meeting a wolf in Hungary.
The status of large carnivores in Europe varies widely depending on region and species. The reactions of local communities are as diverse as the landscapes are that wolves, lynx, bears and wolverines are returning. The presence of large carnivores often invokes polarised discussions, even expanding the polarisation to other underlying social challenges, and quickly escalating to highly political exchanges. A return evokes emotions ranging from fear to elation. Conflicts arise especially with stakeholders in traditional agriculture such as sheep herding, for whom it is vital to find practical solutions for coexistence. The EU Life-funded Euro Large Carnivores Project
is dedicated to improving coexistence between humans and large carnivores. In cooperation with farmers, WWF has been implementing measures to prevent human conflicts with large carnivores, including watch dogs and fences.
Even so, the Slovak Government moved to set the annual wolf hunting quota at 70 animals in October 2019. Since 2000, more than 1760 wolves have been legally killed in Slovakia. Inexplicably, the quota was set at 70 animals for the 2018/2019 season. WWF-Slovakia and 27 other NGOs
organised a petition to completely ban wolf hunting in the country
. The action drew over 90,000 signatures
in a very short period of time. In reaction, the Ministry of Agriculture did reduce the quota to 35 for the 2019/2020 season; but even this is unacceptable.
Besides hunting of these emblematic, key species, shrinking and fragmented ecological connectivity is also having a negative impact on their survival.
As natural habitats are shrinking and being fragmented by roads, collisions between cars and wildlife are becoming more and more common. Moreover, unless measures are taken to reduce their impact, ecological connectivity may be disturbed by new infrastructure projects throughout the entire Carpathian Region, such as motorways being constructed as part of the Trans-European Transport Network
(TEN-T). The ConnectGreen
Project focuses on identifying and safeguarding the ecological corridors in the Carpathians. The new Open Borders for Wildlife Project
focuses on maintaining the ecological connectivity between Romania, Ukraine, Slovakia and Hungary, stronger regional cross- border cooperation on sustainable development, biodiversity and landscape conservation, maintain and improve ecological connectivity
between habitats, as well as to maintain ecosystem services
for the benefit of local communities, regions and society in general. The project targets preservation of common natural values on a landscape level
, demolishing the negative effects of borders on habitats
"Our goal is to ensure a long-term, sustainable conservation of our most emblematic species in the Carpathians (large carnivores and European bison) by fostering human-wildlife co-existence, nurturing stakeholder cooperation and dialogue, and maintaining ecological connectivity at the landscape level.
" -Cristian Remus Papp, Wildlife and Landscape National Manager, WWF-Romania