Regional icons and more
Rewilding Europe works in a wide range of landscapes and habitats right across Europe. In addition to rewilding icons such as European bison, large carnivores and vultures, this means that we encounter an amazing diversity of life in our rewilding areas. Not only mammals and birds, but reptiles, amphibians, insects, fish and myriad plants and small invertebrates.
We know that the Rhodope Mountains alone are home to more than 45 species of reptiles and amphibians. The Velebit Mountains boast at least 1800 (more than 80 endemic) plant species. Every area has its flagship species – from pelicans in the Danube Delta and the Eastern imperial eagle in the Rhodope Mountains, through to chamois in the Central Apennines and the white-tailed eagle in the Oder Delta.
In each rewilding area we focus on target wildlife species. If possible, we support their recovery in a number of ways: through the rewilding process, and by reducing human-wildlife conflict, population augmentation or reintroduction. Most of the species are chosen because they play a keystone role. This means that they have a profound impact both on their habitat and on other species.
Some of these species have a cascading effect. The presence of large carnivores, for example, changes the grazing behaviour of their prey (such as deer), which in turn influences vegetation dynamics and provides a richer variety of habitats which accommodate other, smaller species. And some of the focal species are chosen because we believe their presence could stimulate the rewilding process significantly – examples would be large herbivores such as Spanish ibex and European bison.
Please find below a list of the focal species in each of our rewilding areas.
Griffon vulture, black vulture, Egyptian vulture, Spanish imperial eagle, Bonelli’s eagle, Iberian lynx, rabbit, red deer, roe deer, Spanish ibex, Iberian wolf, wild horse, Tauros
Griffon vulture, grey wolf, brown bear, red deer, Balkan chamois, Eurasian lynx, wild horse, Tauros
Marsican brown bear, grey wolf, Apennines chamois, griffon vulture and red deer
European bison, red deer, grey wolf, brown bear and Eurasian lynx
Griffon vulture, black vulture, Egyptian vulture, Eastern imperial eagle, European souslik, marbled polecat, red deer, fallow deer, wild horse and European bison
White-tailed eagle, European bison, elk, grey wolf, Atlantic sturgeon, beaver, grey seal and common trout
Brown bear, Eurasian lynx, wolverine, moose, reindeer, beaver, Atlantic salmon, brown trout
All creatures great and small
It is not only highly iconic species that are critical to the rewilding process. Species with a lower profile also play an important role in rewilding ecosystems, from large numbers of grazing breams in the Danube Delta through to the wild boar in many areas. Increasing rapidly across Europe and severely hunted in many places, the importance of the latter cannot be overestimated. A real “eco-engineer”, it acts as a “natural plough”, opening up soils in forests and grasslands and thereby supporting many plant and insect insects. In many areas it is also an important prey species for the grey wolf.
Big Seven of the Oder Delta
In most of our areas flagship species are used to brand the region as a nature tourism destination. In the Oder Delta, for example, the so-called “Big Seven” are used to attract nature tourists to our rewilding area on the Polish/German border. Here they can enjoy beaver and white-tailed eagle safaris, offered by local tourism companies. Elk and grey wolf are also recolonising the area, while grey seal numbers are increasing in the Stettin Lagoon and adjacent Baltic Sea. A large European bison population on the Polish side (Pomerania) is slowly approaching the delta, and we hope it can colonise the area on its own, or with some help if necessary.
We strongly encourage nature lovers to take advantage of the rich diversity of life that calls our rewilding areas home. Visit the European Safari Company to learn more about how you can experience such majestic nature and support local economies at the same time.
What are we doing
We are working on reintroduction plans for a range of species, such as the European bison, beaver, red deer, roe deer and Spanish ibex.
We are restocking populations of red deer in the Velebit Mountains in Croatia, and fallow deer and red deer in the Rhodope Mountains of Bulgaria.
We are helping to restore migration of Baltic salmon and brown trout in the rivers of northern Sweden and Atlantic sturgeon and common trout in the Oder Delta.
With funding from Germany’s Krombacher Brewery we are supporting the protection and recovery of the Lesser spotted eagle in the German part of the Oder Delta.