The beaver is again breeding in the Danube Delta, after 200 years

June 3, 2014

The first video footage from a trap camera monitoring setup, has confirmed that beavers are again breeding in the Danube Delta in Romania, after an absence of almost 200 years.

See here the video clip how the beaver is repairing his den.

The European beaver (Castor fiber), currently a strictly protected species in Romania, had disappeared during the early nineteenth century, not only from this country but also from most of the rest of Europe. This because of the same reasons: excessive hunting for their fur and for the product called castoreum (once used in the perfume industry) and because they were seen as a damaging pest for forestry and agriculture. In Romania, ICAS Braşov initiated a first reintroduction project in 1998, on the rivers Olt, Mures and Ialomita. Once having an established population there, beavers then started to migrate without any human intervention and 12 years later, in 2010, the first of them showed up in the Upper Delta. This is part of the general comeback of this and another 36 species of mammals and birds all across Europe, something thoroughly documented in the Wildlife Comeback Report, published in 2013 by ZSL and Birdlife International, funded by Rewilding Europe.

 “Through the beaver’s return to the Delta, nature is teaching us a few important lessons, and if we learn from them we could be much more successful in nature conservation”, says Alexandra Panait, Team Leader of the Danube Delta rewilding team. «This species is nicknamed the “Ecosystem engineer” because of its ingenuity in building mosaics of habitats that extend the surface of wetlands and retain water there. Something which is more necessary than ever in these times of climate change. This medium-sized, but very active herbivore has a long-lasting positive impact on the biodiversity of its habitat. Beaver lodges built by huge heaps of branches and when not anymore used often turn into new nest sites for birds or hiding places for reptiles and amphibians, while the channels the beavers dig provide safe places for fish to spawn».

The captured video footage shows the diversity of bird species in the area (note : the video is not on fast-forward) but it also shows images of the beaver’s predators , which tend to hang around the beaver’s lodges. Such as the raccoon dog which predates on the small beaver kits, if given the opportunity. When there is a complete food chain at work, we can also better understand how nature keeps everything in balance. Something that of course also is valid in all other ecosystems.

Rewilding Europe also works together with local entrepreneurs in the delta to develop business ideas and products in order for them to be able to make a fair living from the wild and by using the wild values in a more responsible way. One of the opportunities is to develop nature tourism products that focus on bird watching and guiding of nature lovers in the Danube Delta.

At the same time, WWF-Romania and Rewilding Europe are working together also in another rewilding area in Romania, the Southern Carpathians, where we continue to monitor the 17 recently reintroduced European bison in the Ţarcu Mountains, and where we are also working to support local entrepreneurs to make the most out of the new opportunities that the bison bring to the area.

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