The return of Bison to the Southern Carpathians

In the early 20th Century, European Bison, teetered on the edge of complete extinction with just 54 animals remaining. Over the course of the next 90 years, a captive breeding programme saw bison return to the wild in Poland and Belarus; the population now stands at over 5000. This is a great achievement but the European bison is one of Europe's great missing species across much of its range. In Romania, the last bison was shot in 1790. The LIFE ReBison Project was developed to return this iconic species back to Romania - to once more have European bison roaming the forests and meadows of the Romanian mountains.The western part of the Southern Carpathians - the Natura 2000 sites of Muntii Tarcu and Rusca Montana Tarcu Retazat Corridor - were identified as the best place to reintroduce this keystone species. Here, the mountains are relatively unfragmented and rich in old growth forest and upland meadow – they are also home to brown bear, wolves and wild boar amongst much other wildlife. This is some of the wildest land in Europe but its keystone grazier is missing. Could the return of the bison to this spectacular landscape be possible? Rewilding Europe and WWF-Romania have formed a partnership to turn the dream of Romanian bison into a reality. By working with partners across Europe - the team developed plans for its reintroduction. Complex discussions and adminstrative permitting arrangements stretched the limit of Romanian law. Importantly, the team understood the need for education and enterprise development tied to the reintroduction of the bison so that these animals would be accepted. Finally, in 2014 the first bison were released - the goal of bring bison back to Romania was realised. The project has released 7-20 animals each year and the population stands at nearly 100 bison today. Bison are back.

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