Rewilding Europe

Big efforts needed for wildlife recovery

Rewilding Europe has started with the design of a Wildlife Recovery Programme, focusing on large herbivores to start with. A working group of dedicated specialists, Rewilding Europe’s Wildlife Team,  has prepared an overview of all the wildlife restocking and reintroduction plans that we have developed for the five projects. Four species were selected to focus on: European bison, European wild horse, Aurochs and Kulan. We face a huge challenge in our projects to be able to provide for sufficient numbers of grazing animals. Apart from the herbivore species mentioned above, there are also plans for reintroducing or restocking European beaver, red deer, saiga, vultures, Iberian lynx, (Iberian and Alpine) ibex and others.

Although there is quite some experience in Europe with re-introducing and restocking animals, it is important to plan for this carefully, look at technical aspects, transport, veterinary and legal issues and permits, and last but not least identify resource populations. So we need a coordinated approach, use all existing knowledge and learn from other examples inside and outside Europe.

So far we have worked with our Wildlife Team consisting of FREE Nature, Large Herbivore Network, Taurus Foundation, Herds and Homelands and Flaxfield Nature. With this team we are connected to a European network of wildlife specialists. We are also seeking advice from organizations outside Europe, in particular Africa where there is a huge expertise on wildlife issues.

Wildlife recovery actions are planned in all of the five Rewilding Europe project area. We are looking forward to witness the first restocking and re-introductions in these areas, to beef up the wildlife numbers and to enhance natural grazing. Many European plant- and animal species will benefit from the open, half open and mosaic landscapes that will be a result of the grazing all the species that are now missing or occurring far under their natural densities. We’ll keep you posted when the first releases will take place!

The Wildlife Recovery Programme is being developed with the help of the organizations mentioned below. In addition, cooperation with a lot of local organizations and experts will be key to the success of the Wildlife Recovery Programme.

FREE Nature
is an organization that works on restoring natural processes in nature and reintroduced wild and semi-wild bovines, horses and even European bison in different European nature reserves. In The Netherlands they also execute the daily management of their herds.

 

Large Herbivore Network is focused on promoting the essential need for conserving and restoring large herbivore populations in their natural habitats, leading to projects. LHNet supports the Wildlife Recovery Programme together with their active international platform with experts in 57 Eurasian countries. LHNet’s website contains the ecological and spatial information of 35 species of large herbivores, including large carnivores and vultures.

 

Flaxfield Nature is an experienced consultancy working in Eurasia and Northern America. Flaxfield Nature is specialized in practical field conservation, integrating species conservation into habitat and ecosystem conservation and has a long time experience in large carnivore and large herbivore conservation.

 

Taurus is private Dutch foundation that uses cattle and horses in nature management and natural grazing schemes. Taurus is involved in a breeding programme of TaurOs. TaurOs  is a species that should be indistinguishable from the former Aurochs, which got extinct in 1627. The project has a broad scientific foundation with a multidisciplinary angle. The breeding started in 2009 and a Spanish and Portuguese breeding station was identified in the Rewilding Europe’s Western Iberia project.

 

Herds and Homelands has international experience in rewilding cattle and horses in many European reserves and has long time involvement in bringing back Eurasia’s last surviving wild horse, the Przewalski, into the steppes of Mongolia. Herds and Homelands has great knowledge of the social aspects of rewilding cows and horses.

 

For more information on the Wildlife Recovery Programme, please contact Wouter Helmer, Conservation Director of Rewilding Europe.

11 November 2011

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