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Rewilding Europe

Canada Wolverine Offline
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#1

Rewilding Europe is a programme aiming to rewild one million hectares of land spread across ten different locations in Europe by 2020. Main species for rewilding are big herbivores - wisent, tarpan-like semi-wild horses and auroch-like primitive cattle.
Previously named the Wild Europe Field Programme, it was initiated in 2011 by four organisations: WWF-Netherlands, ARK Nature, Wild Wonders of Europe and Conservation Capital following the "Conference on Wilderness and Large Natural Habitat Areas" (Wild Europe) conference in Prague in 2009.
€3 million in start-up funding for the programme was raised in a Dutch lottery.

Here is the main portal of Rewilding Europe where you can read all news concerning the programme:

https://www.rewildingeurope.com/









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Canada Wolverine Offline
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#2
( This post was last modified: 03-13-2018, 08:39 AM by Wolverine )

@Spalea , @peter what do you think about idea of rewilding of deserted farm arias in Europe with auroch-like cattle and tarpan-like semi-wild horses. With wisent everyrhing is clear because European bison is a profoundly wild animal. Currently there are 2 completely different opinions, 2 philosophies between biologists on this topic:

Opinion 1: Auroch and tarpan (original European wild horse) are forever extinct and once one animal specie disappear it cant be never recreated.

Opinion 2: Auroch and tarpan has never actually extinct, they were only domesticated  by humans. Actually cattle in our farms are aurochs only a bit externally changed through selection and feral horses in our farms are actually tarpans externally changed through selection. Their genes were not lost. Both species could be recreated by humans by reverse selection.

I am personally a fan of the second theory. The wild plains and mountains of Europe one day should again resemble ancient prehistoric Pleystocene landsape with wisents, wild horses and aurochs roaming and hunted by grew wolves and bears.

The breed of aurochs-like cattle should totally resemble ancient auroch. The males should be black color with narrow white strip on the back and cows should be brownish. There are 3 most suitable candidates:

Taurus cattle:





Heck cattle:





Sayegesa cattle:






New wild horse should have or grey color or brownish colour since its still not very clear between paleontologists what was the exact colour of tarpan.


There are 2 main candidates:

Konik horse (from Poland):






Exmoor pony (from British isles):




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Switzerland Spalea Offline
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#3

@Wolverine :

I'm clearly not a specialist. But if I am quite agree with your wish ("The wild plains and mountains of Europe one day should again resemble ancient prehistoric Pleystocene landsape with wisents, wild horses and aurochs roaming and hunted by grew wolves and bears"), I nevertheless think that once extincted an animal specy couldn't be recreated. Yes, we are able to create a new specy but not totally the former one.

As concerns the auroch, I just reproduce here the old book (60s) about mammals page about auroch. I appreciate the qualities of the illustrations, and - naivety ? - my view of the auroch is always clearly this one:


*This image is copyright of its original author

I translate its physical description:

"The auroch, 190 cm at the withers, is extinct but according the ancient descriptions and the skeletons, we know its appearance and its behaviour. He has a straight back, an elongated head and big curved forward horns with black points. The short and smooth coat was black with a white ray on the back and white parts of the snout for the adult bulls. The cows and the young males were brown, the calves reddish-brown. The auroch lived in small herds...".

What I note is that: the auroch was a big bovid, a really impressive beast, and if your short videos closely reproduce its appearance, I don't find the "savage character" of the extinct animal. The auroch might be a easily frightened animal which didn't let people approach it. Something like the African buffalo. And because of that, with the wisent, one of the dominant bovid of the European continent. An animal often confronted against natural predators (wolves, brown bears) and living under harsch conditions.

In fact I fear that we have recreated a pale imitation of the original animal which, because of its savage behaviour, was definitively wiped out in 1627 according to the book comments.

But I would like to be denied, to be proved wrong !
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India brotherbear Offline
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#4

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/travel/ca...118565664/   
 
This is bear country—but just barely. The brown bear lived in the Pyrenees until 1991, when the last of the region’s bears is believed to have been killed. But a reintroduction program, launched in 1995, seeded the wild and remote Midi-Pyrenees with a handful of brown bears selected from Slovenia. Today 20-something of the animals—Ursus arctos, the same species as the North American grizzly bear—roam the mountain range. I pedaled deep into the mountains, up the lush Garrone River valley, almost all the way to Spain, to meet Jean-Michel Parde, a local biologist who worked on the reintroduction program in its early years and now lives in the village of Fos, just three miles from the site of the 1995 bear release. Parde believes 600 brown bears could inhabit the Pyrenees—if people would only let them.
Read more: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/travel/ca...rfFZVXV.99
Give the gift of Smithsonian magazine for only $12! http://bit.ly/1cGUiGv
Follow us: @SmithsonianMag on Twitter
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Canada Wolverine Offline
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#5
( This post was last modified: 03-14-2018, 04:02 AM by Wolverine )

Thanks  @Spalea it was interesting what is opinion of one European as you on this topic. Many biologists, but not all have same opinion.

So you think that domestication of one specie is equal to extinction of the specie. In same time there is some difference between extinction of Smilodon and mastodont, we have only their bones and skulls, and on other hand the "extinction" of aurochs and tarpan wild horse, because their blood and genes are still here around us. Somebody even could say that a wonderful Swiss chocolates Toblerone or Milky Way are actually produced my "aurochs milk", but that's too radical. Everytning is bit philosophical - one could say that the bottle is half empty and other would say that bottle is half full. As long as I know there is no united view on this question between scientific community.

In any way, Rewilding Europe have many enthusiastic supporters and this programme is going on more than a decade. Very important is the aesthetics of rewilding arias. For example semi-wild horses should be mixed in one territory only with wisents, and aurochs-like cattle should be mixed only with deer in order landscape to look really wild and prehistoric. Its not good idea to mix in one rewilding territory a semi-wild horses with aurochs-like cattle because than this territory will look like a meadow of our grand mother...a ordinary farm land. But European bison and semi-wild horses together looks really great.

Auroch like cattle were already introduced in Velebit mountains in Croatia and now they are learning how to deal with local numerous wolves. In other aria - Eastern Rodopi mountains Konik semi-wild horses are roaming free and already learned how to protect themselves from local wolf packs. There is info that stallions are so aggressive that local wolves don't dear any more to attack the horses.
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Switzerland Spalea Offline
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#6

@Wolverine :

About #5: I'm not biologist, you know. Just very interested by the animals' life... So when you told "domestication of one specie is equal to extinction of the specie", I don't want to be too affirmative, but I really think that all the caracters, all the potentialities of one animal specy are only fully revealed in wild, not in a domestic surrounding which only favours a few features seeked by man.

If we really wanted to create again the Pleistocene landscape, we must not fear to mix the herbivores and the predators. This the wealth of these confrontations which leads the species to fully developp and grow. The natural selection favours the novel genes creation.

Otherwise, as concerns the tarpan you also mention the faculty of this small horses specy to repel the wolves. Indeed, from the same book I used this morning:


*This image is copyright of its original author


I translate the concerned lines:

"... the tarpans formed several hundred-head herds leaded by one male. They were vigilant and shy but they didn't fear the carnivorous and repelled the wolves with their front legs"
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United States Polar Offline
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#7

@Wolverine,

Rewilding Europe would be a great idea, especially the Balkan area where my country Bulgaria and the other Balkan countries are. Not many medium-sized predators in those areas, and brown bears (being excessively hunted for sport and population control in Bulgaria back in early 1900s) are at an extremely low number count.
"If all mankind were to disappear, the world would regenerate back to the rich state of equilibrium that existed ten thousand years ago."

- E.O Wilson
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Canada Wolverine Offline
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#8
( This post was last modified: 03-16-2018, 10:53 AM by Wolverine )

(03-16-2018, 04:57 AM)Polar Wrote: @Wolverine,

Rewilding Europe would be a great idea, especially the Balkan area where my country Bulgaria and the other Balkan countries are. Not many medium-sized predators in those areas, and brown bears (being excessively hunted for sport and population control in Bulgaria back in early 1900s) are at an extremely low number count.

Yes, brown bears could be much more. In same time grey wolves in Bulgaria increased tenfold for the last 30 years from 100-200 in the 70's and 80's to more than 1200 now.
Probably you know that one of the 10 huge rewilding arias was created in Rhodope mountains (eastern Bulgaria):
https://www.rewildingeurope.com/areas/rhodope-mountains/

Other 9 are in Croatia, Portugal, Germany, Litwania, Romania etc. Majority of them are in Eastern Europe because human population density in Western Europe is too high for large scale rewilding (250 people per sq.km. in Germany and only 80 people per sq.km. in Romania for example). Konik semi-wild horses were imported from Oostvaardersplassen (Netherland) and now they are roaming free in Rhodope mountains (150 miles on the South of Varna) protecting themselves from local wolves.




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Switzerland Spalea Offline
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#9

@Wolverine :

About #8: Nice documentary !

But if I may so, this documentary tends to show that wolf isn't the natural predator of the wild horse. Thus, the wild horses will thrive and perhaps become too numerous, and of course the men will regulate their population by transfering some of them into other areas and perhaps too by... killing some other of them. Large natural areas aren't so many numerous in Europe, because, as you told, the human density population is often too high, especially in Western Europa.

And so what ? We know what happens when the herbivores thrive in a limited area: without natural predator, the natural biodiversity is threatened, including the plants, the landscape will go to degrade . And who was the natural (and more efficient than the wolf) predator of these horses before the Christian era ? In Europe they were completely exterminated around 100 years B.C...

The lion ! And I don't believe at all it will be possible to reintroduce the lion into Europa, even in a country where the population density is around 80 people per square km like the Romania. Reintroducing the lion into Europa would involve so much transformations as concerns the tourism, the local people customs and so on... I prefer not to think about it.

The European continent isn't the Indian country...

So, the man specy will remain the ersatz, the substitute for a natural predator. As concerns the wild horses, I can concede you that this problem isn't for tomorrow, but when an animal specy will thrive a lot, the things are able to change very quickly. If the wolves cannot solve this problem, the man will need to do it. That's unavoidable. But perhaps that is the natural Europa, the rewilding Europa if to recreate the Europa of the ancient time will oblige to reintroduce the ancient Europa lion. To recreate and reintroduce the Europa lion...
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Canada Wolverine Offline
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#10
( This post was last modified: 03-16-2018, 02:58 PM by Wolverine )

(03-16-2018, 01:49 PM)Spalea Wrote: And who was the natural (and more efficient than the wolf) predator of these horses before the Christian era ? In Europe they were completely exterminated around 100 years B.C...

The lion ! To recreate and reintroduce the Europa lion...

Geniously! You Spalea arrived independently to same conclusion as many theoritics of rewilding before you... reintroduction in Balkans of the lion, where he inhabited only 2 thousand years ago in the time of Ancient Greece.
That doesn't mean that grey wolves cant limit population of wild horses, the quantity of the semi-wild horses and surrounding wolves is still too small to acess the impact of wolves on wild horse population, its too early to make conclusions. In Central Asia wolves limit quite well local semi-wild horses.

Probably you don't know but demographic situation in many countries in Eastern Europe after the fall of communism 28 years ago is close to catastrophic. Many of the this countries have lost from 10 to 20% of their human population due to mass emigration and very low birth rate. Gigantic farm and agricultural lands in the East were deserted, they start slowly to cover with forests. But European Commision doesn't want too much forests, it want this former agricultural lands to stay open grasslands and the tool for this will be introducing of big herbivores - wisent, wild horses and auroch-like cattle, they brouze and graze the small trees and bushes and don't allow forest to grow. Basically idea is to resemble the ancient primordial European steppe.

Population density in India is ar. 400 people per sq.km, 1,5 times higher than Germany. Population density in Kenya is 78 people per sq. km same as in Souteast Europe.
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India brotherbear Offline
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#11

A very good thoughtful example here. People can, in time with education, learn to accept that there are brown bears roaming free in the wild places. But, the public will likely never accept lions or any other big cat. I think its too bad that no cougar-like cat ever lived there. Cougars are notorious horse-killers. It might would be possible to get some people to accept them. But then, that would not be recreating what once was.
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Switzerland Spalea Offline
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#12

@Wolverine :

About #10:


Sorry, the exchange of wievs is very interesting but I can only make a few remarks, now:

1) I didn't want to say that wolves would be unable to maintain the wild horses population at a correct level, but it would involve big prides of wolves able to hunt their preys within very big hunting areas... Look at the wolves hunting elks in Canada: the hunt can take place over 10-20-30 kilometers... So many place without involving human populations in Europa ? Except for Russia, it seems to me impossible.

The lion, preying by ambush over short distances, wouldn't need so much space to hunt wild horses.

2) I know too that the populations in Eastern Europa are living very difficult moments. But if the country populations are really in crisis the rewilding fauna wouldn't be at all a priority... So distrut... You can recreate an ancient Europa, but you don't have to count on a increased poverty of the country.

3) A big difference with the India country. In India lions and tigers, very iconic animals, didn't disappear at all, they were only becoming very scarce, and the people has never completely lost contact with these big felids. Even with 400 people per sq km... But to reintroduce the lion in Europa, it would involve a complete relearning of the locals population which don't know to make up with this big cat any more...
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Switzerland Spalea Offline
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#13

@Wolverine :

About #10:

A last remark: you were evoking the Kenya country... But look at the population evolution of this country: it's exploding ! You can absolutely not compare the situation between two countries on the lone basis of the density population. The Kenya population is doubling all the 20-25 years, the Eastern Europa population is only stagnating... When I traveled in Kenya in 1989, the population was only 22.000.000 inhabitants, look at now...
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Canada Wolverine Offline
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#14
( This post was last modified: 03-16-2018, 04:40 PM by Wolverine )

Of course this with lions was half-joke...its not realistic to think about it in the next 100 years. Grey wolf can control everything - from mouse to bison. Wolves currently made remarkable return all over the Europe. In the Middle ages who controlled aurochs, wisents and forest tarpans in Europe? - Wolves!
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United States Polar Offline
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(03-16-2018, 02:50 PM)Wolverine Wrote:
(03-16-2018, 01:49 PM)Spalea Wrote: And who was the natural (and more efficient than the wolf) predator of these horses before the Christian era ? In Europe they were completely exterminated around 100 years B.C...

The lion ! To recreate and reintroduce the Europa lion...

Geniously! You Spalea arrived independently to same conclusion as many theoritics of rewilding before you... reintroduction in Balkans of the lion, where he inhabited only 2 thousand years ago in the time of Ancient Greece.
That doesn't mean that grey wolves cant limit population of wild horses, the quantity of the semi-wild horses and surrounding wolves is still too small to acess the impact of wolves on wild horse population, its too early to make conclusions. In Central Asia wolves limit quite well local semi-wild horses.

Probably you don't know but demographic situation in many countries in Eastern Europe after the fall of communism 28 years ago is close to catastrophic. Many of the this countries have lost from 10 to 20% of their human population due to mass emigration and very low birth rate. Gigantic farm and agricultural lands in the East were deserted, they start slowly to cover with forests. But European Commision doesn't want too much forests, it want this former agricultural lands to stay open grasslands and the tool for this will be introducing of big herbivores - wisent, wild horses and auroch-like cattle, they brouze and graze the small trees and bushes and don't allow forest to grow. Basically idea is to resemble the ancient primordial European steppe.

Population density in India is ar. 400 people per sq.km, 1,5 times higher than Germany. Population density in Kenya is 78 people per sq. km same as in Souteast Europe.

Correct. And during after the end of communism, many mining areas and dig sites were abandoned as well, but still no operations were being made on these areas. These areas could be re-irrigated and used as nature reserves but the Bulgarian government doesn't want them to be re-irrigated because of "possible loss of future profits"  (whatever the heck that means) that Stanishev announced in 2008. So it seems like they want to keep the mining operations/mineral sites (and the sites you mentioned too) in use but can't do so for some strange reason (most likely corruption and money laundering).

A huge part of this is political as well. Corruption has been a giant part of many governments in Eastern and South Europe for the past 100-200 years, communism or not. Still the same people in power who are doing all these corrupt things everywhere in the world, regardless of president or prime minister.
"If all mankind were to disappear, the world would regenerate back to the rich state of equilibrium that existed ten thousand years ago."

- E.O Wilson
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