The bisons are part of the reintroduction project developed by the Conservation Carpathia Foundation through the European Commission’s Life programme, and have been brought to the new quarantine and acclimatisation pen since November last year in several stages. The 12 individuals come from reserves and breeding centres in Sweden, Germany and Slovakia.
The Conservation Carpathia Foundation is launching the third reintroduction point of the Făgăraș Mountains, at Dobroneagu, near the commune of Nucșoara, Argeș county, from where 12 bisons will be released this spring. Launched in 2019, the programme to repopulate the Făgăraș Mountains with bisons also includes two other reintroduction points: Bunea, in the commune of Rucăr, and Lerești. The reintroduction and release areas are located at a distance from the villages and are carefully studied so that the species has optimal living and feeding conditions.
The Făgăraș Mountains will have 58 bisons this spring
From 2019 to date, 36 bisons have been reintroduced through the Conservation Carpathia Foundation’s bisons reintroduction programme, but this spring another 22 will be added. They are in the three acclimatisation pens as follows: 12 at Nucșoara, 5 at Bunea and 5 at Lerești. The final objective of the project is to release 75 individuals by mid-2024.
Carpathia Conservation Foundation rewrites the story of the bisons in the Făgăraș Mountains
The journey of the bisons in the Făgăraș Mountains begins in one of the three quarantine and acclimatization enclosures located on land owned by the Conservation Carpathia Foundation. After the 30-day quarantine period, the bisons are transferred to the acclimatisation pen where they remain until release. Depending on the time of year they are brought in, the bisons can stay in the acclimatisation area for up to 6 months, during which time they will adapt to the new environmental conditions.
The Nucșoara enclosure covers 76 ha and, like the others, is set up in the middle of the wilderness and 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 pen is enclosed by an electric fence, specially designed to allow native fauna to move around inside and to allow the bisons to get used to the presence of other species. Construction takes about 60 days and is being carried out by the foundation’s ranger team. During the period of quarantine and acclimatisation, the Foundation 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 animal.
“The degree of adaptation of the bisons released so far in the Făgăraș Mountains is good, and they are gradually expanding their range to areas with favourable habitats. From this spring, we will be able to follow the bisons 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 the Conservation Carpathia Foundation is to build an independent, healthy and ecologically efficient population of the bisons. In the long term, success can be expressed in terms of range expansion and the existence of natural exchange of individuals between neighbouring free-ranging populations of bisons,” explains Adrian Aldea – species introduction manager at the Conservation Carpathia Foundation.
The bisons – a key element in the revitalization of the ecosystem in the Făgăraș Mountains
Considered the largest land mammal in Europe, the auroch (Bison bonasus) is a herbivorous animal with a very varied diet, taking up to 80% of the day to feed. As such, bisons play an important role in conserving biodiversity, sustaining a balance between forest and grassland ecosystems, with meadows and forests maintained by grazing.