Tell me your story!
Bilder aus dem Projekt:
ProPark Foundation for Protected Areas
175 Lunga Street, Brasov, Romania
Local Sheppard, Vama Buzaului Bison Reservation, Romanian Wilderness Society, Liberty Bear Sanctuary, Conservation Carpathia, Private game management expert, Wildlife photographer
Ziel der Aktion:
We conducted a series of 5 excursions that gave the children the possibility to discuss and learn from various experts and stakeholders that interact with large carnivores. Our goal was to create a context in witch children to learn that there are different points of views how people perceive large carnivores, to understand how people react and manage different situations and to get a sens of how complex maintaining a balance in the ecosystem is. Each excursions had a full day program during witch we approached different NGO's, local shepherds, game management experts, wildlife photographers and foresters experts, in the following way: 1. Visit at Liberty Bear Sanctuary 2. Visit at Bixad private game management land and bear observatory 3. Visit a Sheppard's hut at 1300m altitude in Ciucas Mountains, visit at Vama Buzaului Bison Reservation and discussed with an expert in species reintroduction from the Romanian Wilderness Society 4. Visit in Rucar and hiking up the mountain with a human-wildlife conflict expert from Conservation Carpathia 5. Hike on Postavaru Mountain and monitored and analysed large carnivore tracks with a biologist from Conservation Carpathia
All the excursions had a particular objectives that meat to guide the children through the discussions with the experts and stakeholders, as follows: - understand the impact that human activities and lack of a poor legislation has on wildlife and what are the consequences on the species population - discussions at the Bear Sanctuary about poaching, animal abuse and torture, having a wild animal as a pet, infrastructure development and causes of death of wild animals, orphan animals and chances of survival, etc. - understanding the purpose and perspective of a game management expert in the process of maintaining a balance in the ecosystem. How animals are selected and hunted, who and in what conditions is it allowed to hunt a large carnivore (that is strictly protected by the Romanian legislation), the difference between a hunter and a game management expert - understanding the beauty of wildlife and nature through the eyes of a photographer, that explained to us the beauty and the challenges of his job - understanding the way a Shepard manages the conflicts with large carnivores in order to protect his animals - we learned about how important is to use the proper dog breed and number of dogs, proper fences and electrical security. - understating the effect of losing a species from the trophic network and the complexity of the reintroduction efforts done in Romania with the bison species, taken as an example. - understanding the way NGO's deal with human wildlife conflict on private land, how many damages large carnivores create, who pays for the damages created, etc - learn about the large carnivore behavior from a biologist, how to monitor and interpret tracks and scats and the efforts of conservation of the species, learn about different tactics of hunting and survival techniques of different species of prey, the fragility of the trophic chain and the interdependence of species.
We gave the children the opportunity to understand that there are different points of view related to the same subject and that in general is it hard to have the same level of acceptance and tolerance. The children were at times confused when talking with different stakeholders and hearing information that were contradictory at times, for example: "The are too many bears in the forest!" This statement is quite common to hear among hunters and shepherds, but countered by wildlife specialists due to the fact that in Romania there the monitoring activities are not done in the same time and individuals can be counted more than once. We learned that in order to have a proper opinion about a particular subject, as controversial as the wildlife management, we need to analyse the matter from as many points of view as possible.
It was amazing to explore this subject with the children and explore the stories of the people who deal with direct wildlife interactions. From angry farmers who loose 5 sheep/year to wolfs and bears, people who rescue abused bears from ZOO's and circuses and give them another life, passionate people who roam all the continent in order to identify the proper genetically individuals in order to re-create a stable bison population in Romania, to fascinating stories of biologists that spend their life up in the mountain, exploring the animals behavior and trying to make us understand how and why these animals behave the way they do. It was a fascinating journey!
This kind of activity needs a lot of preparation ahead, from identifying the experts, the best landscape to conduct the interview and the lessons, the practical games used in between the explications, etc. It is mandatory to have clear objectives and moderating techniques in order to keep the discussions on the right track. It is very useful to involve the children's teachers as well in all the excursions, as it is very helpful to have more eyes on the children when hiking the mountains, as it is to keep them focused when the time comes.