Danube Delta: Rewilding highlights 2022

December 28, 2022

The year 2022 is coming to an end in the Danube delta, shared by three countries… To put it mildly, it was a difficult year for the people and nature of Ukraine. Every corner of the country, every business or community was affected by the war.

The Danube Delta is not an exception, although here its consequences are felt a little less than in the east of the country. This permitted our team and partners to pursue some rewilding efforts in the region. Whenever possible we have tracked the animals that have settled in the delta over the past few years thanks to our joint work. It is nice to note that all of them are in good health and even reproduce well and perform their ecological functions.

In the Romanian and Moldavian parts of the delta, we also made promising partnerships and nice plans, paving the way to the next year’s rewilding achievements.

So, we hope that the war will end soon, and we will be able to restore the nature of our region together, and rewilding will help us in this. With the 2022 highlights find out how it is already helping natural areas and communities, which is why the UN Environment Program recognized the rewilding efforts in the Danube Delta as a role model for nature restoration in Europe.



The fallow deer come back to the Tarutino steppe

15 female European fallow deer traveled more than 800 kilometers to find their new home in the Tarutino steppe. They joined a group of males that was brought here two years earlier, in a fenced area of more than thirty hectares to acclimatize to new conditions. We hope that the fallow deer, which feeds on grass and leaves, will diversify natural grazing in the Tarutino steppe and complete food chains. In addition, this agile and graceful animal is an interesting object of observation for tourists. Read more and watch the video.


There are more and more free kulans in the steppe

A baby arrived in a group of kulans that was released into the wild nature of the Tarutino steppe last fall. This is the first kulan to be born here in the last few hundred years. Besides, he was born free. The release of kulans into the wild nature of the Tarutino steppe is an experiment, the first attempt in many years to return the animals to the wild nature, to areas of the steppe that are not limited by fences and other obstacles that restrain animals in a certain area. The animals overwintered well, making small migrations across the steppe. So, in the spring of this year, we released another group of kulans. Read more and watch the video.


A new species in the rewilding portfolio

Together with the Kyiv Zoo, a reintroduction program for the common hamster has begun in the Tarutino steppe. Hamsters, along with other herbivores reintroduced to the region through rewilding efforts, should restore food chains and enrich the steppe fauna. Once this small charismatic animal inhabited almost the entire territory of Ukraine, but in recent decades it has almost disappeared in nature. As a result of this experimental release of hamsters, the mother, father, and their young offspring, brought from the Kyiv Zoo, settled in the steppe. At the beginning of autumn, the animals fell into hibernation until spring, when nature will bloom and provide them with fresh sprouts. The next releases of hamsters to the steppe are planned for the spring. Read more and watch the video.

Common hamster Cricetus cricetus


Better conditions for nesting of the Dalmatian pelicans in the Danube delta

A breeding platform for the Dalmatian pelicans was built on one of the Danube lakes. The experience of using such platforms in other countries, for example in Bulgaria, shows that Dalmatian pelicans like to build their nests on these artificial islands, which are protected from predators and disturbance. Last year, floating platforms were built in the Danube Biosphere Reserve. So, together with this one, we already have two good opportunities for these amazing birds to start new nesting colonies in the Ukrainian part of the Danube Delta. Due to the war, access to the outer delta is closed, so we cannot check the floating platforms. But we hope that Dalmatian pelicans will build their nests on them. Learn more.


Confirming the important role of steppes in mitigating climate change

Steppes are one of the most vulnerable natural systems that are threatened with extinction because humans are converting them into arable land. As part of the new project, the first research took place in the summer in the Tarutino steppe and in the Askania-Nova Biosphere Reserve. Assessment of the capacity of steppes to absorb and retain carbon will help prove their important role in mitigating climate change, and preventing land degradation and desertification. The results of the research will also make it possible to estimate the economic potential of “healthy” steppes, which in the future will provide an opportunity for local communities to make a profit on the international carbon market from the restoration of steppe areas. Learn more.


The Rewilding team of the Danube delta sincerely thanks all partners, experts, and contractors for the joint efforts that made these achievements possible, as well as all supporters for their help in these difficult times! We hope next year we can achieve more together to make the Danube delta healthier and wilder!

Rewilding efforts in the Danube delta were made possible with the financial support of the Endangered Landscapes Program and the LIFE program of the European Union.


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