Proper etiquette in the presence of bison
Since the start of the Life Bison Project in 2016, 56 bison have been translocated from Germany and Poland—55 to reintroduction areas and one to the breeding center in Hunedoara. The bison roam freely at two main reintroduction sites in the Țarcu and Poiana Ruscă Mountains of Romania. These areas comprise one of Europe's largest wilderness areas and encompass 4 national parks and 1 natural park, totaling about 300,000 ha where species and the landscape benefit from their protected status.
However, the animals do not recognize the boundaries and borders that humans draw on maps. Therefore, when rewilding leads to the recovery of wildlife populations—either naturally, or through reintroductions—it is critical to employ measures that promote human-wildlife co-existence. Maintaining harmonious relations between humans and reintroduced European bison is the aim of a new animation produced by the Rewilding Southern Carpathians team and WWF-Romania with the talented artists at Animation Worksheep.
The bison reintroduction to the landscape after a 200 year absence, just like the sturgeon, is an excellent example of our regional strategies to implement the New Deal for Nature and People. The project can help us achieve the zero-half-zero goals by lessening the impact on natural resources and increasing biodiversity in the Southern Carpathians. Through the education and support of the local community, not only is the ecological footprint reduced, but the ecosystem services gained by the reinvigorated protected areas have led to ecotourism and sustainable development benefiting the local economy. More than 100 families are benefiting from the resulting ecotourism packages; goods and services based on the presence of the bison, such as souvenirs and experiences that over 700 tourists enjoy annually.
The reintroduction is being carried out within the framework of the Urgent Actions for the Recovery of European Bison Populations in Romania Project (LIFE-Bison) with financial support from the European Union through the LIFE Programme 2016-2021. We are looking forward to the success stories of rewilding bison in the Făgăraș Mountains launched by Foundation Conservation Carpathia last year, and financed by the Endangered Landscapes Programme. Together with the first bison reintroduction site in Vânători Neamț Natural Park, there are now four areas in the Romanian Carpathians that sustain our common goal of bringing back this legendary animal.