Brown Bears of the Carpathians, Romania

One of the last corners of true wilderness in Europe are the Carpathian mountains, most of them in territory of one Eastern Europe country, Romania! This is one of the last remaining homes of shrinking populations of brown bears in Europe (excluding Russia), but with huge pressure from many sides like deforestation, hunters lobby, poaching and infrastructure development!

In recent past, poverty (lack of capital to exploit local resources like forest) together with very high tolerance of Romanian rural people for wildlife have allowed brown bear population to survive in these places. Currently as Romania joined European Union and received funds to develop their roads, and when most of forests were auctioned to private Western European bidders for exploitation, with lack of proper government legislation to allow long term sustainability, together with intensive poaching from increasing number of local rural population and even hunting lobby represented by richest person in Romania, all these factors started to take their toll on the now officially estimated 6000 brown bears in Romania. It is a matter of time before all bears are gone, with current pace, and Romania will join the other European countries which have almost completely sacrificed their bears and other wildlife predators for profit or ignorance reasons.

In favor of bears survival there is still high tolerance from part of population, although most would not actively support an initiative and anyway majority would always favor developed infrastructure instead of current status, and a handful of non-profit organizations like WWF Romania which do a great job in trying to assure bears survival, and have many initiatives in this regard, but of course they count as well as much funding as possible to continue their fight and here you can contact them and try to support them! Romsilva is another organization (public) which theoretically should protect the forests from illegal deforestation (although their own legal forest exploitation, by its sheer volume, is far more damaging for environment, as well as their chronic corruption and incompetency) , but they can gather high number of volunteers to re-plant trees in non-urban areas (although artificially grown mono-culture forests are never a substitute for primeval genuine forests) and they have a bit more funds to monitor forests and wildlife with drones and video cameras (here also with purpose of assessing profits from hunting), whose images they also share on their facebook account: here . Agent Green is a non-profit organization on the other hand which does a great job highlighting the abuses that Romsilva is constantly doing, turning vast national parks with pristine forests into massive logging areas for the main political party clients, but Agent Green is there to film it, share it with public and complain about it up to European institutions! Also Bear Sanctuary in city of Zarnesti does a great job savings captive bears from owners which captured them illegally, unfortunately these bears can never return in the wild, but they can still serve an education purposes for visitors, here for more details!

Poaching is another phenomenon which takes a big toll on bear population, this is made with snares or with guns, as at least in Romania, almost each person with a license for legal hunting is also an opportunistic poacher. They do this for food, for “sport” and also from lack of education, for them predators are clearly bad animals, these people failed to understand, even when explained, how all elements of an eco-system connect! In attached pictures is a brown bear seen by a group of Romanian tourists which love mountains and sometimes they see wildlife which they happily photograph. But in the same forests unfortunately you can also find remaining of brown bears fallen victims to poachers.

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