A new transport of bison herd has reached the Natura 2000 reserve in Tarcu Mountains, Southern Carpathians, Romania on June 20, upon the initiative of the WWF Romania, Rewilding Europe and local partners, among which there were the municipality of Armeniș commune and Măgura Zimbrilor Armeniș Association.
“Through this transport we took a new step in creating a genetically viable population in the Carpathians, bringing the largest European land mammal back to the habitat where it belongs,” said Marina Druga, project manager of Life Bison, who also reminded that the bison used to walk the forests of Romania and Europe 200 years ago.
The new group of bison consists of five females (three from Springe reservation, two from Edertal-Hemfurth) and two males (from the reserves of Neumünster and Cuxhaven), and it has traveled 1,500 kilometres from the Wisentgehege in German city of Springe to Romania.
Before their relocation, the animals spent six months in the German reserve, in order to get used to the new home. After a 21-hour trip, the seven-bison herd arrived in Romania safe and sound.
The first male, Curt II has been a little bit reluctant upon arrival, and, after two hours of the attempt to get him out of the truck, the project manager decided to tranquilize it and move it to the pen.
After they spend the first 21 days in an acclimatization pen, the bison will be checked again before being allowed to wander free in a 160-ha enclosed area. They will be able to adapt tot he wild climate here and to learn how to survive without any human help. Rangers will though permanently monitor the bison, their behaviour and medical condition.
The new comers will be set free in the wilderness in Tarcu Mountains, a Natura 2000 site stretching on an area of 59,000 hectares.
73 bison have been brought so far from nine reservations and centres in Europe and Romania. Today, around 50 animals are wandering free the two re-wilding areas in Tarcu Mountains and Poiana Rusca Mountains.
As it is a key species, the bison has a great impact on the environment. By grazing, the corridors through the vegetation and fertilization it makes, the bison creates conditions that enable a diversity of plant and animals species develop. They are also a source of food for predators like wolves, bears and lynxes.
The European wild bison became an endangered species in the early 20th century by excessive hunting and after losing their habitat. Starting 2014, the ongoing re-wilding programme of the bison, conducted by Rewilding Europe and WWF România, is the biggest attempt of this kind in the Southern Carpathians.
The first two transports of bison took place in 2014 and 2015 in Tarcu Mountains, near Armeniș.
Transports have repeated every year ever since within the LIFE Bison project funded by the European Commission. In 2018, other 23 bison were released in the wilderness, including 14 animals in the new re-wilding area in Poiana Rusca Mountains, near Densuș.