The bison are part of the reintroduction project developed by Conservation Carpathia through the European Commission’s Life programme, and were brought to the new quarantine and acclimatisation pens from November last year in several stages. The 12 specimens come from reserves and breeding centres in Sweden, Germany and Slovakia.
Conservation Carpathia launches the third reintroduction point in the Făgăraș Mountains, at Dobroneagu, near the Nucșoara commune, Argeș county, from where 12 bison will be released this spring. Launched in 2019, the programme to repopulate the Făgăraș Mountains with bison also includes two other reintroduction points: Bunea, in the commune of Rucăr, and Lerești. The reintroduction and release areas are located far from villages and are carefully studied so that the species has optimal living and feeding conditions.
The Făgăraș Mountains will have 58 bison this spring
From 2019 until now, 36 bison have been re-established through the reintroduction programme, and this spring another 22 will be added. They are in the three acclimatisation pens as follows: 12 at Nucșoara, five at Bunea and five at Lerești.
The final target of the reintroduction project in the Făgăraș Mountains is the release of a total of 75 individuals by mid-2024.
Conservation Carpathia rewrites the story of the bison in the Făgăraș Mountains
The journey of the bison in the Făgăraș Mountains begins in one of the three quarantine and acclimatisation areas located within the conservation areas owned by Carpathia. After the 30-day quarantine period, the bison are transferred to the acclimatisation pen where they remain until their release. Depending on the time of year they are brought in, the individuals can stay in the acclimatisation area for up to six months, during which time they adapt to their new environmental conditions.
The Nucșoara pen covers 76 hectares, and like the others, it is set in the middle of the wilderness. The conditions here are similar to those in the wild. It has feeding, food storage and watering facilities and consists of two parts: a quarantine area of about 3-4 ha and an acclimatisation area of 72 ha.
The acclimatisation area is enclosed by an electric fence, specially designed to allow native fauna to move around inside and to allow the bison to get used to the presence of other species. It takes about 60 days to build and is being carried out by the Foundation’s ranger team.
During the period of quarantine and acclimatisation, the rangers check the health of the animals daily, feed them and record various parameters in a specially developed application to monitor the progress of each individual.
“The degree of adaptation of the bison released so far in the Făgăraș Mountains is good, as they are gradually expanding their range in areas with favourable habitats,” explains Adrian Aldea, Wildlife Management Biologist at Conservation Carpathia. “From this spring, we will be able to follow them from the new reintroduction point at Dobroneagu-Nucșoara, an area that offers equally good conditions to support a viable population for the species. Through the implementation of this project, the goal of Conservation Carpathia is to build an independent, healthy and ecologically efficient population of bison. In the long term, success can be expressed in terms of range expansion and the existence of a natural exchange of individuals between neighbouring free-ranging populations of bison.”
The bison – a key element in the revitalization of the ecosystem in the Făgăraș Mountains
Considered the largest land mammal in Europe, the bison (Bison bonasus) is a herbivore with a very varied diet, feeding for up to 80% of the day. As such, they play an important role in conserving biodiversity, sustaining a balance between forest and grassland ecosystems, with meadows and forests maintained by grazing.
About Foundation Conservation Carpathia
Foundation Conservation Carpathia is the largest nature conservation project in Europe, contributing to the restoration of natural ecosystems in the Carpathian Mountains for the benefit of biodiversity and local communities. Since 2009, the Romanian foundation has saved over 27,000 hectares of forests and alpine meadows in the southeastern Southern Carpathians from logging by acquiring them for conservation purposes, planted more than 3.7 million seedlings over 1,819 ha affected by logging, created a 78,000 ha no-hunting and no trophy hunting zone. The Foundation contributes to the well-being of communities in the vicinity of protected forests through social, education and green business development projects, and its long-term vision is the creation of the Făgăraș Mountains National Park.
About the project
The bison population programme in the Făgăraș Mountains is carried out within the project ‘Creation of a wilderness area in the southern Carpathian Mountains, Romania’, LIFE18 NAT/RO/00108. The main aim of the project is the reconstruction of degraded habitats and the application of conservation measures, allowing the restoration of natural processes and the creation of benefits for local communities in the Făgăraș Mountains area.
The project is implemented by Foundation Conservation Carpathia with partners between 2019-2024, with financial support from Arcadia Fund through the Endangered Landscapes Programme and from the European Commission through the LIFE programme.