During my pre-mission research I realised that the chance of meeting a sturgeon in the delta was close to zero. Unfortunately. So I took the chance to dive with the sturgeons at the Danube Delta Eco-Tourism Museum Centre in Tulcea before setting out in the delta. They have a special sturgeon aquarium including the largest and most sought-after species of them all, the great beluga.
The lucky winners of the Christmas draw in our rapidly growing Travel Club were drawn on December 20, 2013 by Frans Schepers, Managing Director of Rewilding Europe, Ilko Bosman, Finance and Operations Director and Iva Tontcheva, Communications Manager.
I look down and meet a pair of hard-boiled white eyes staring back at me from Virginia’s freshly cooked zander fish soup. It is lunchtime with Cristian and Florin under a pergola dressed in grapevines. Finally I am here, in the village Crisan after flights, road trips, hotel nights and an extensive riverboat journey.
It’s such a joy to see your kindreds succeed and walk their talk! Some months ago, when I met Cristian Ilea, he was talking about the storks and the live video stream and the difficulties of such an enterprise and… and I, for one, was vaguely tired of big words and shiny futures of never happening ideas.
The Mitsubishi 4WD is helter-skeltering around some awful potholes as we are rushing downhill towards the village of Mehadia. “If you could make a wish, what would that be?” I ask Gogu as the frontlights flash at large beech and elm along the forest road.
A new ministerial order in Romania spells out the criteria for identification of virgin forests – a key measure that will lead to the full protection of this important European treasure. The order was signed in September by Rovana Plumb, Romania’s Minister of Environment and Forests.
The autumn in Romania started with nice weather and a good opportunity for getting in touch with the Danube Delta local community. In September, WWF team that is implementing Rewilding Europe initiative in Romania, took part in Rowmania Rowing Boats Festival in Tulcea.
2012 came with great news! Rangers of the Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve Administration reported to have spotted a beaver nest in the Somova-Parches lakes complex. This indicates the beaver’s presence, despite the fact that the animals are too shy to be seen, especially in winter. The experts reported the number of beavers to be currently unknown, but their nest will be constantly monitored.
The two pilot projects of Rewilding Europe in Romania – Danube Delta and South-West Carpathians – were successfully launched in the autumn. One of the initial aspects was to look into the opportunities for the return of beavers, red deer and the European bison. Potential products linked to rewilding enterprise developments in the Danube Delta, providing support for both local communities as well as nature conservation investments, were also identified.
Sitting in the middle of a vast river delta, surrounded by tall Phragmites australis* reeds, an intense feeling of peace began to filter through my veins. No office, no fingers flying on the keyboard, no phonecalls. Just wide open landscape.