European bison were once widespread across Europe – but the last one in the wild was killed by poachers in 1927.
That left just 12 animals in captivity to save the species – and since the 1950s, bison have been reintroduced into the wild. The species is now off the critically endangered list, but it still faces challenges from a lack of knowledge in communities, habitat loss and a narrow genetic base.
European bison now number almost 7,000 and free-ranging herds can be found in many European countries. Bison hadn't been seen in Romania for more than 200 years but since 2014, groups have been released every year. There are now over 120 living freely in the Tarcu Mountains. This rewilding is not only a boon for the bison but for the wider ecosystem, bringing benefits for 600 species – from micro-organisms to large carnivores.
RAZOR's Emma Keeling treks through the Tarcu Mountains in search of bison, meeting the WeWilder team involved in the rewilding project, jointly led by the WWF and Rewilding Europe. She finds how the return of bison has given the local community opportunities to provide ecotourism services and guiding experiences in the area.