Making it real
The rewilding strategy aims at connecting the existing protected areas (Abruzzo, Lazio e Molise National Park and Sirente-Velino Regional Park) with corridors for large mammals, especially brown bear, red deer and wolf. The strategy also includes an increase of the wildlife populations.
One of the main goals is to improve the situation for the Marsican brown bear, and that work will be carried out in three communities strategically located at the northern border of the Abruzzo National Park, which still is a home to many of the only about 50 remaining bears of this kind. Among the planned activities are a long-term lease of a critical area in order to eliminate existing problems with poisoning, poaching and transfer of disease from livestock. That area is at the same time one of the best spots in the whole region to see bears, wolves, red deer, roe deer and wild boar. Rewilding Europe will help to develop wildlife watching tourism for some of these species. In the same area, a local organisation – Salviamo l’Orso – is being supported to reduce the risk for road traffic accidents with wildlife, by establishing speed reduction devices and warning signboards. We will also try to increase the social control of poisoning and poaching, with the cooperation of the local communities. A group of locally recruited “Bear Ambassadors” who will ensure the information flow between the local communities and the project, training landowners in the management of electric fences for the protection crops and properties, search for illegal snares, support the anti-poisoning patrols, collect reports of sightings and signs of bear presence, and manage a system of camera traps. Indeed, involvement and participation of the local community will be a key tool for success. The three “Bear Ambassadors” started to work during the summer of 2014.
Rewilding Europe and Rewilding Apennines also aim to improve the situation for the vultures. Griffon vultures have been reintroduced to the Velino area and five small colonies now exist. To speed up the increase of breeding pairs and colonies we will provide them with more easily available food near the colonies, and at the same time building state-of-the-art hides, especially conceived for vulture watching and photography, allowing economic revenue and self-sustainability. A network of feeding stations and watching places will be established in private or publicly owned sites.
Rewilding Europe and Rewilding Apennines will also work with local administrations and hunters to create large “no-take zones”, A “Wilderness Megatrek” (a wilderness path crossing the rewilding area) will be created, and a common brand for all three villages (Gioia, Lecce and Ortona dei Marsi) will be developed and promoted where these stand out as bear-friendly municipalities. There will also be training of local guides and entrepreneurs in the needs of the wildlife watching tourism.