by Lucas McCallum
17 new Bison have been successfully introduced and adapted to the Southern Carpathian Mountains, making this the largest roaming population of these huge herbivores that Romania has seen in 200 years. With six new born calves this year, there are now over 65 bison in the wild here.
Starting last autumn and as part of the LIFE Carpathian Project, funded by the European Commission through the LIFE programme and the Endangered Landscapes Programme, the WWF Romania and Rewilding Europe foundations began a comprehensive project to reintroduce the bison to the Făgăraș Mountains.
The action in recent weeks marks the completion of the integration of these bison. The process entails a preliminary period of quarantine where the bison were under veterinary supervision. Subsequently, the bison were released into larger acclimatization areas, thus having the opportunity to adapt more fully to the environment. The first reintroduction habitats were chosen with shelter, seclusion and food in mind and this meant Lake Pecineagu for six of the bison and the other 11 in Lerești. In the spring of next year, they will be released, joining the already released herd or possibly even forming a new one of their own. In order to ensure a healthy genetic diversity, these new bison came from the Vânători Neamț Natural Park, the Buzău Customs Bison Valley, as well as from reservations in Great Britain (EAZA), Sweden (EBCC Scandinavia) and Germany.
There are now clear signs of other nature prospering due to the presence of bison, from birds using the bison hair for their nests to the increased presence of large carnivores in the area. Furthermore thanks to the contribution of the recent population growth of this species, European bison are no longer listed as a vulnerable species in accordance with the IUCN.
Moreover, a new set of hiking trails in the Armeniș area have been marked out by rangers and approved by authorities. Setting the ground-work for a healthy future for ecotourism. Find out more by checking out European Safari Company (https://www.europeansafaricompany.com/) or WeWilder (https://www.wewilder.com/). Further infrastructure is underway as two hamlets were restored to be used as places where tourists and researchers can rest and explore the area. In addition, a co-working campus is being constructed via a WWF Panda Labs initiative. It’s goal is to connect urban travelers to rural life and wild nature.