Foundation Conservation Carpathia has started a program to reintroduce bison in the Făgăraș Mountains. As a first step, four bison have been brought from Germany. Seven more bison of Polish origin will follow by the end of the year. In the long term, it is planned to continue the gradual reintroduction of this species until the formation of a stable population of 30 bison in the initial area.
Bison disappeared from Romania about 200 years ago, and they have now been successfully reintroduced in recent years in Neamț, Caraș Severin and Hunedoara counties. The Foundation Carpathia Conservation is extending this endeavour and assuming the mission of restoring the population of bison in the Southern Carpathians, in the Făgăraș Mountains area. Strong and majestic animals, they were loved and cherished by Romanians for hundreds of years. With a beneficial influence on nature and living in harmony with man, the bison returns home.
The four specimens that arrived will be held in an acclimatization camp located in the Pecineagu Lake area and will be released into the wild in the spring of 2020, at distances of 20-30 km from the villages. The selection of bison was made on the basis of the European pedigree book, so as to ensure the rapid adaptation of this species to the environment and to offer its maximum chances of survival.
“In order to guarantee the favourable results of the project, we have taken into account all the essential criteria for obtaining a genetic diversity, such as the countries and backgrounds of the bison. We aim to ensure the optimal gender ratio as well, which is a challenge in the process of animal selection,” says Adrian Aldea, biologist at the Foundation Conservation Carpathia. The daily activity of the bison will be monitored; a few will have non-invasive GPS collars, which will not influence their adaptation, but will allow us to learn their routes and the habitats that the herd will frequent.”
Bison, national symbol
The bison was and remains a symbol of Romania. Strong and majestic, this animal, present in the national history and folklore, has been prized by Romanians for hundreds of years. The reasons are partly pragmatic: bison have great economic potential; through the role they play in the development of local tourism based on nature observation. In Romania, the most impressive example is the prosperity of the communities where the bison have returned.
“The sustainable development of the rural economy is a reflection of the economic development,” says Ionel Dulamă, mayor of Rucăr commune. “Local public administration has a very important role to play in this type of development – we need to respond to the present needs without harming the interests of future generations. Rucăr commune understands it is necessary to give priority to the forms of tourism development that lead to the saving of precious and rare resources, in this case the introduction of bison in the Dâmboviţa Valley, and to encourage the local community in avoiding as much as possible the production of waste. Natural tourism or ecotourism are particularly recognized as determining factors for enriching the position of tourism, given the respect for natural heritage and local populations.”
As the number of bison become stable, the biodiversity will benefit directly: the meadows will be maintained through the grazing, for the benefit of the red deer, and the wildlife will revive.
“Bison is the largest terrestrial mammal in Europe. Its role in nature is a positive one, according to studies,” says Daniel Bucur, project manager at Foundation Conservation Carpathia. “Romania has the right natural conditions, and we have the chance to contribute to its return. Together with the other species, the bison will complete the wild nature, unique in Europe. We believe that we are lucky, because that means added value for Romania.”
About the project
The program of populating Făgăraș Mountains with bison is realized within the project “Creation of a Wilderness Reserve in the Southern Carpathian Mountains, Romania”. The main purpose of the project is the restoration of the degraded habitats and the application of conservation measures on an area large enough to allow natural processes to take place, to benefit biodiversity and local communities.
The project is implemented by the Foundation Conservation Carpathia in partnership with ProPark Foundation for Protected Areas, Conservation Capital (UK) and Prof. Alistair Bath (Canada), from 2019-2024, with financial support from the Arcadia Foundation through Endangered Landscapes Programs and from the European Commission through the LIFE program.