Carpathian Large Carnivore Project

The Carpathian Mountains are amongst the most pristine ecosystems left in Europe.

The majority of the Carpathian surface, almost 100,000 km2, is located in Romania. Here, about 80% are covered with unspoiled mountain forests, which represent the largest contiguous forest ecosystem in Central and Eastern Europe.

Although the Romanian Carpathians cover less than 1.5% of the European surface west of Russia, they are home to almost one third of all European large carnivores: The authorities estimate that the number of bears is over 5,000, that there are about 3,000 wolves, and some 2,000 lynx. This is the highest concentration of large carnivores anywhere in Europe.

The Carpathian Large Carnivore Project (CLCP) has developed and implemented a comprehensive conservation programme for large carnivores in Romania. The project started in 1993 and has ended in summer 2003 and has had numerous organisations involved. Within Romania, the Carpathian Wildlife Foundation (Fundatia Carpati), the National Forest Administration and the Forest Research and Management Institute were the most important players.The projects intention was to include all ecological, economic, and social factors relevant to the large carnivore-human relationship, and the amendment of associated problems.

Overall goal of the programme was to establish a community-based conservation of large carnivores and their habitat in a model region in the southern Carpathians through an integrated management approach.

The CLCP has been executing activities in four fields: Research, Conservation and Management, Rural Development, and Public Awareness. In our research programme, we looked into the basic biology of wolves, bears, and lynx and their relationship to local people in various ways: Livestock issues, economic importance, and attitudes towards the carnivores. Over the years, we have radio-collared 17 wolves, 3 lynx, and 12 bears and closely monitored economic aspects of livestock breeding, eco-tourism, and trophy hunting.

In the "Conservation and Management" section, we tried to solve immediate problems in the relation between carnivores and humans: The habituated bears in Brasov and livestock problems were our main focal points. We tested and implemented electric fences as an additional tool to prevent livestock depredation.

Rural Development was a tool to achieve conservation. We developed an eco-tourism programme in the area around Piatra Craiului National Park (which we helped to create) and tried to influence through this programme local politics in favour of conservation.

Within the "Public Awareness" component, we developed and implemented comprehensive school and university education programmes, and showed hundreds of journalists around, which reported about our work and the area.

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