By Ine Dorresteijn
The previous discussion on our blog was about where to target conservation efforts in Romania. Biodiversity is amazing in Eastern Europe; however, it seems hard to prioritize certain places for conservation efforts because species appear to be everywhere. Indeed species seem appear to be everywhere, and with this blog-post I would just like to show you a bit more about the biodiversity in Transylvania.
Just as an example, a few days ago we saw a bear, deer, blindworm, different species of lizards, grass snakes, different frogs and toads, and of course many species of butterflies and beetles. Doing fieldwork in this region is very rewarding and we see many different species every day.
I consider myself lucky as I get to discover the main land uses of the region. Last year I mainly did my fieldwork on the pastures, meadows and arable fields, whereas this year I get to spend most of my time in the forests. Besides the fact that the forests are very beautiful with many mature trees, it is also exciting as there is always the chance to encounter a carnivore! Therefore, the feeling I have by walking through a Romanian forest is totally different compared to a German or Dutch forest.
This year we are using camera traps in the forests to survey mammal distribution. We are mainly interested in the importance of large carnivores (wolves and bears) on the ecosystem. Last week we got the pictures back from the first 30 sites. Just from those 30 sites alone we got around 850 pictures with identifiable animals on them. Unfortunately we did not yet get any wolves, but we did get pictures of 21 individual bears spread across 14 sites. Besides bears we also got pictures of roe and red deer, red fox, stone marten, wild boar, badger, rodents, domesticated animals and wild cats! I am especially excited about the wild cats as they do not seem to be rare in this region at all. We have pictures of 23 cats in 12 sites. In comparison, in the Netherlands it was big news last month when they observed the first wild cat (on camera traps) after centuries of its absence. We have now set out cameras for the next 30 sites, and I am very excited about the next things we will discover on our traps. Below are a few pictures from the Transylvanian forests.