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Few tourists visiting Dambovita County know that this is home to the largest wisent reserve in Romania.

Photographs by Angelo BREZOIANU / AGERPRES PHOTO

At the wisent reserve of Bucsani there are 48 wisents living in a pen that covers 162 hectares. The reserve is located less than 80 kilometers from Bucharest City.

The animals were given names starting with RO, the indicative of Romania: Rosia, the red-haired female; Rotunda, the round female; Rococo, Robokap, Romario, Romela, Rocarita, the rocker female, and Rosactu, the red-haired male. Born in June 1986, Rociu is the oldest one. At the end of last year, the reserve got bigger as five more wisents were born.

‘This is an oasis 8-10 km away from the commune of Bucsani, inside the Neagra Forest, hence the name of the reserve. It was established in 1978, and it is currently the largest breeding ground for wisents in Romania. There are 48 individuals in a pan in a reserve that covers 162 hectares. There is a visitor centre, a cottage and a landscaped area where guests can sit and drink water. I can tell you that on May 1 hundreds of hikers came to the reserve. Mornings and afternoons are the best times of the day to watch the wisents. In summertime, there are 20 to 30 hectares of pasture and the wisents seek food and shelter from the sun in the forest. October to March we bring them to the mill, where we place their food and they come and eat. Travellers here can see the wisents. Older individuals — their lifespan is 25-30 years — isolate themselves from the herd. Wisents are generally gregarious animals that gather in herds. The area of our reserve can accommodate about 30 individuals, but there are some orders for wisents from Vanator Neamt and we hope to deliver to other parks as well. In conclusion, I urge everyone to come to the wisent reserve for an unforgettable experience,’ head of the Dambovita Forestry Directorate Costel Preda told Agerpres.

At maturity, seven, eight years of age, a wisent male can weigh about a tonne, and a female around 600 kilograms. A wisent can live up to 28 years in captivity, with its lifespan reduced in the wild. Wisents feed in the early morning, after which they seek shelter in the upper third part of the slopes to ruminate. The best time to visit is in the morning, at 10:00hrs, when the wisents come for food supplements. In wintertime, the wisents can no longer fully feed by themselves, and here is where the reserve carers step in to help.

Wisents are gregarious animals, seemingly peaceful around humans and tolerant of other animals. However, they may be surprisingly aggressive with unpredictable outbursts, displaying great agility and nimbleness despite their bodily massiveness.

‘In the ancient forests of Romania, aurochs and wisents seemed to have coexisted. In those days, no one would mistake them, as any of them would be admired for their own skills. Then, in the 16th century, the aurochs vanished from Romania. In Western Europe, the wisents disappeared from the local fauna as back as the 11th century. They survived until later in Eastern Europe, with the last killed wisent being reported in 1927 in the Caucasus. Back then, there were only 50 wisents in captivity. The species was in great danger. Aurochs had disappeared as a distinct species 400 years previously and history seemed to have reserved the same fate to the wisents. Some say the confusion between aurochs and wisents has been going on for hundreds of years. Others, however, consider that on the contrary, aurochs and wisents are one and the same,’ reads a post on the official website of the Bucsani wisent reserve zimbrarianeagra.ro.

For 169 years, there were no wisents left in Romania. The last wisent of Moldavia was killed in 1762, and Transylvania’s last in 1970. The wisents reappeared in Romania in the autumn of 1958, when a male and a female were imported from Poland to a game park near the town of Hateg, Hunedoara County.

Tickets for the reserve cost 4 lei for adults and 2 lei for children. Tours are unlimited. Visitors who want to spend more than a day at the reserve have a nearby cabin to stay. AGERPRES

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