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First wild bison in Romania after 160 years

Five European bison  2 females and 3 males – were released in the Vanatori Neamt Nature Park in the eastern part of the Romanian Carpathian Mountains on March 22. The last record of wild bison in Romania dates back to 1852.

“It is a historical day in the conservation history of Romania” says Sebastian Catanoiu, manager of the Nature Park. “It took us 10 years to take this first step. Very soon new releases will follow, not just in Vanatori Neamt but also in other parts of the Romanian Carpathians.”

A programme to reintroduce bison in the Vanatori Neamt Nature Park started in 2003 with animals originating from breeding centres in Switzerland, Germany and Sweden. Not far from the borders of Moldova and Ukraine, the species has a historical stronghold in this region. According to legends, the medieval state of Moldova was founded during a bison hunt close to the Vanatori Neamt Nature Park – at that time known as the “Bison Land”. Since then the bison serves as the symbol of Moldova and is also represented on the Romanian flag.

Rewidling of the first free living bison is an important milestone for the comeback of species in Romania. In addition to Vanatori Neamt, breeding centres have been established in three locations in the country, well distributed around the Carpathian Arch. Sebastian Catanoiu is advising Rewilding Europe on the reintroduction of the European bison in south-west Carpathians. A first rapid assessment in November 2011 demonstrated both suitable habitats and locations in the region of the Tarcu Mountain Natura 2000 Site, Domogled-Valea Cernei National Park and Mehedinti Plateau Geopark. Local names of villages, hills and other geographical features also indicate the historical presence of the bison. Following a more detailed assessment in summer 2012, work on bringing back the European bison to this part of the Carpathians will begin.

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Casa da Cisterna: expanding the business thanks to rewilding

Casa da Cisterna, a boutique bed & breakfast in the Western Iberia rewilding area was the first beneficiary of Rewilding Europe Capital (REC). Ana Berliner and António Monteiro, owners and managers of this fantastic Bed & Breakfast had the chance to expand their project thanks to the REC loan in 2014.

The Bed & Breakfast, located in the historic village of Castelo Rodrigo, one of the most well preserved rural villages in the region, opened to the public in 2004 with four bedrooms. Ten years later, due to great demand, Ana and António decided to expand the Bed & Breakfast and renovated a neighbouring house. Now they offer five more bedrooms than before, where tradition, elegant design and modern functionality come together beautifully, to provide guests with a unique experience.

“With the support of the Rewilding Europe Capital we could attain the co-finance needed for the expansion of Casa da Cisterna,” says Ana Berliner. “Besides infra-structure, it enables us to increase our energy efficiency.” Casa da Cisterna now has an ecological heating system – a heating pump – and solar panels for heating water, reducing the electricity consumption.

“In 2014, the occupation rate of visitors from Central Europe increased 35%,” Ana says. “Some visitors also came through the Rewilding Europe Travel Club. Rewilding Europe, with their different approaches – from funding to promotion – are great partners, supporting the growth of our business.”