Living Large

Picture by Rafal-Kowalczyk

In this follow-up on our huge herbivore friends OZB can report that there are now more than 100 wild European bison living large and prospering in Romania. 

The European bison was on the brink of extinction, rarer than the black rhino, and it only survived through the early 20th century in captivity. Since the 1950s, and starting from 2012 in Romania, serious conservation efforts have been made to reestablish this important species. The European bison population has increased from around 1,800 in 2003, to now over 6,200. As a result the species has moved up the IUCN red list classification from “vulnerable” to “almost threatened”. 

Romania is now home to more than 100 bison. They reside in the Făgăraș and Țarcu Mountains and in the Vânători Neamț Natural Park. The largest herd of over 65 bison live in the Tarcu Mountains where it was established by Rewilding Europe and WWF Romania. Both organizations have been working within the “Urgent Actions for the Recovery of European Bison

populations in Romania Project,” with the LIFE Bison Project, whose aim is to create a zoetic population that breeds in the wild and develops both biodiversity and sustainable ecotourism for local communities to thrive and live in not only mutual, but profitable coexistence.

“Bison calves are being born in the wild and the local communities are very supportive and these are good signs that bison belong to these ancestral lands, but let’s not forget that the species is still threatened by various challenges, from habitat loss to ambiguity in legislative processes. That is why we believe that only by working together can we ensure the progress made in the last 70 years will not decline, but that we will witness a change for the better,” says Marina Drugă, LIFE Bison Project Manager, WWF Romania.

Together with twenty-five other species, the recovery of bison demonstrates the power of conservation according to IUCN Director General, Dr Bruno Oberle. “Yet the growing list of extinct species is a stark reminder that conservation efforts must urgently expand. To tackle global threats such as unsustainable fisheries, land clearing for agriculture, and invasive species, conservation needs to happen around the world and be incorporated into all sectors of the economy.”

“The conservation successes provide living proof that the world can set, and meet, ambitious biodiversity targets. They further highlight the need for real, measurable commitments as we formulate and implement the post-2020 global biodiversity framework,” said Dr Jane Smart, Global Director of IUCN’s Biodiversity Conservation Group.

For more information please contact:

Marina Drugă, LIFE-Bison Project Manager, WWF-Romania, [email protected], +40 729097969

Bianca Ștefănuț, Communications Specialist, WWF-Romania, [email protected], +40730098722

Find out more about the LIFE Bison Project:

Visit the Bison Hillock rewilding area with European Safari Company or WeWilder:

For more information on WWF Romania:

For more information on IUCN:

For more information on Rewilding Europe:

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