The herd of Konik horses shipped to the Danube Delta from Latvia earlier this yr is now roaming free. Following a quarantine interval the 23-strong group of animals has simply been launched on Ermakov Island, within the Ukrainian a part of the Danube Delta rewilding space. As the primary ever cargo of Koniks into the delta, these hardy herbivores will diversify habitats and improve native wild nature.
Last vacation spot
Two households of Konik horses at the moment are roaming Ermakov Island within the Ukrainian a part of the Danube Delta rewilding area. Having made the brief journey from the close by village of Orlovka, the 23 animals have been launched on June 25.
The discharge on Ermakov Island was the final step in a protracted journey for the Koniks. The animals travelled round 1800 kilometres from Latvia to Orlovka on the finish of March – the primary time that Konik horses had been translocated into the delta.
Since then the herd has already grown in measurement, with 4 foals born on Ukrainian soil. After their arrival in Orlovka the animals have been saved in quarantine for almost three months till their relocation to Ermakov.
Diversify pure dynamics
Interacting with pure processes on Ermakov Island, the fully free-living Koniks will vastly diversify pure dynamics and habitats by way of behaviour similar to searching, grazing and fertilising, thereby benefitting a variety of animals and vegetation.
“These giant herbivores will play a vital function within the Ermakov ecosystem,” says Rewilding Ukraine staff chief Mykhailo Nesterenko. “Just like the extinct wild Eurasian horse identified was the Tarpan, from which they’re descended, they’re strong and properly tailored to dwelling in wild circumstances. They will survive harsh winters and defend themselves towards predators.”
Herbivores in partnership
The cargo of Koniks to Ermakov is the second herbivore launch on the island in latest occasions. On the finish of Might, a herd of eight water buffalo was delivered to the island by Rewilding Ukraine. These animals are already properly acclimatised and having a helpful influence on their new setting. Within the subsequent few weeks one other 10 water buffalo are scheduled to reach in Ermakov from the Ukrainian area of Transcarpathia.
Along with different pure processes similar to storms, forest fires and flooding, guilds of enormous herbivores have the potential to reshape landscapes throughout Europe. However for this to occur, their numbers have to be sufficiently excessive sufficient and the species composition sufficiently numerous. Occupying completely different ecological niches, completely different herbivore species not solely compete, but in addition facilitate one another.
“In contrast to bovines (similar to cattle and buffalo), that are typical grazers, Konik horses additionally browse vegetation,” explains Nesterenko. “This implies the mixed influence of untamed bovines and equines (horses) on the Ermakov panorama will likely be far larger than the influence of simply certainly one of these herbivorous species.”
A part of the method
That is the primary time that Rewilding Europe has overseen a translocation of Konik horses into the Danube Delta.
The animals have been delivered to the Danube area by Rewilding Europe’s accomplice organisation Rewilding Ukraine, underneath the framework of the undertaking “Restoring wetlands and steppes of the Danube Delta”.
Funded by a 2.1 million euro grant from the Endangered Landscapes Programme, that is the delta’s largest transboundary restoration undertaking thus far. It includes the restoration of pure landscapes, their ecological processes (similar to flooding and pure grazing) and related wildlife throughout a minimum of 40,000 hectares (400 sq. kilometres) of the Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve in Romania, Moldova and Ukraine.
Rewilding Europe, which printed a booklet on natural grazing in 2015, desires to reverse the decline of biodiversity by returning Europe’s native herbivores – similar to wild horses, in addition to bovines, chamois, deer and ibex – in important and naturally balanced numbers to the lands the place they as soon as belonged.
Along with the Danube Delta, Rewilding Europe is at present reintroducing wild horses in three different operational areas: the Rhodope Mountains of Bulgaria, the Velebit Mountains of Croatia, and Western Iberia.
Nature-based tourism vacation spot
Along with regulating vegetation and landscapes, Ermakov Island’s Konik horses and buffaloes will draw rising numbers of vacationers. In partnership with native authorities such because the Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve, the World Extensive Fund for Nature (WWF) reflooded the island about 10 years in the past by opening up some surrounding dykes. Right this moment it has already grow to be one of many richest areas within the reserve when it comes to its wild nature.
This yr Rewilding Ukraine will begin to assist the encircling communities with tourism infrastructure improvement and advertising and marketing, with the purpose of constructing Ermakov a sexy and well-known nature-based tourism vacation spot.
Associated rewilding actions