Education and awareness campaigns in Vanatori Neamt Nature Park- The Bison Land( Romania) : “Ana has apples …for bison!” and “The Bison’s Night”
The European bison reintroduction in Vanatori Neamt Nature Park started in 2012, using for releasing the animals kept in semifree conditions in a large accomodation fenced area situated near the Park’s Visitor Center. The presence of the semifree bison and the facilities of the Visitor Center allowed us to develop specific activities in order to increase the public awareness regarding the presence of free bison and also to promote this natural asset, characteristic for our area.
Initially the public awareness campaign developed by us consisted especially from applications in schools, visits of the Visitor Center, using of printed materials, articles in mass media. We can say that using this “classic “ approach, there were a low level of emotional and material implication from the public.
In case of feeding the semifree population during winter season we use only dry food ( hay, cereals etc) and very few juicy food. The juicy food (apples, carrots, etc) is very important for animals, especially in autumn, before winter time.
Our solution was to promote a contest among the local schools, regarding the biggest quantity of juicy food offered by a class for semifree bison individuals. To be more attractive we used a wellknown sentence for schoolchildren. “Ana are mere” (Ana has apples) is the first sentence written by children in primary school. The children come with the food to the Visitor Center, they have the opportunity to feed the animals .
Social media, a scale, a car, 2 rangers, and.... a lot of benevolence and permanent contact with local communities
Evidence of success
As a palpable result we succeeded to collect each year quantities between 1- 6 tones. With an impressive media support, each year, the contest “Ana has apples.... for bison” and “ The Bison’s Night” became national events, well reflected by national TV channels and newspapers. The bison became the true symbol and pride of our area- nowadays a football team, a folk dance ensemble, even the Local Action Group ( counting 11 communities) are called – The Bison Land.
There were too many requests for participation for “The Bison’s Night” so we were forced to invite only representative teams from each participant classes.
Potential for learning or transfer
This good practice is suitable for any protected area which intends to improve the relations with local communities. A good idea, an iconic animal, a dedicated team and a lot of work represent the key for success. It was enough to dare, to believe in us and our ideas and to go on. With children support we succeed to transform material matters (collecting food) into some sentimental (offering, having the satisfaction of good deeds, involvement, belonging, etc). Through bison and our initiative the participants convinced themselves they are serviceable, responsible, kind and sympathetic to nature.
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