by Tibor Hartel
Few days ago I posted an entry about buffalos from Southern Transylvania. These animals in combination with cows created and maintained a number of ponds scattered in the grazed landscape, suitable for endangered amphibians like the Yellow Bellied Toad. Now I return to this topic – because I feel it is important.
The below movie was made near the village Coves. This communal pasture is now grazed by 10 buffalos, 60 cows and 40 horses. The image of buffalos cooling themselves in these ponds seem to be very attractive for shepherds because many of them remembered and talked about this with happy smile in their face.
In the past (i.e. before 1989) the number of buffalos exceeded 150 in this village. According to the shepherd, their number dropped recently because ‘noone pay for the buffalo milk’. The overvegetation of the wetlands due to the reduction of the buffalos and cows already visible in Southern Transylvania.
Ponds with too much vegetation are unattractive for amphibians and have shorther hydroperiods. Solutions should be found to maintain a handful of buffalos and cows in each village of these landscapes in order to maintain these ponds. It is still possible to restore many habitats with these animals, and the yellow bellied toads and other amphibians are still common. Later this possibility will sharply decrease.
I would have an other argument for maintaining these little herds in these traditional rural landscapes, besides their huge cultural and ecological importance: one with a more meditative nature, a kind of ‘cultural’ / aesthetic service if you want. Being between these animals in such a landscape setting, one may have the feeling of being between friends, and that there is time for everything and the most important things to make us happy in this life are indeed the very little things surrounding us. Such a feeling cannot be achieved e.g. with a herd of 5000 animals in a ‘production’ landscape, where animals lost their ‘personality’ (because in traditional communities most of, if not all animals have names, have personalities. Just as people. They are not just numbers and statistics as in the modern world).