In the following months, you’ll get the chance to find out more about each member of the diverse team that set out to explore the Bison Hillock and know it inside and out. We guarantee you’ll find each of their roles challenging and rewarding.
Ariane is passionate about conservation and the value of reintroducing wildlife to the ecosystem and the positive effect it can have on the local community. Her wonderful voice brightened many nights by the fire and her thirst for having a good time brings a positive vibe to the Taskforce.
I’m from Belgium, and I have a Bachelor degree in Agro and Biotechnology, specialisation Animal Care, and a Master of Science in Global Wildlife Health and Conservation. I have volunteering experience in a bird and wildlife rehabilitation center in Ostend, Belgium, where I’m from.
Why this internship?
I’m very interested in rewilding, and the bison is such an important flagship species – imagine a Europe without European bison! It’s like Africa without elephants – and this youth volunteering internship will give me essential hands-on experience in wildlife reintroduction.
I think I have good skills for this internship because of my background, because I have a Masters degree in wildlife conservation and I feel like I have at least the theoretical knowledge that needs to be applied here to do a good job and I am very keen to learn, I think I am always looking for an opportunity to improve myself and get better at what I’m aspiring to be – a conservationist.
I’ve experienced first-hand how the Carpathian Mountains are, this nature is incredible. It’s so nice that people are making an effort to preserve it and I think it’s important that everyone tries to do their best, just do whatever you can, even if it’s a small thing like buying ecological washing liquid! Or just anything you can to protect the environment in any way you can think of, because a world without beautiful nature would be devastating.
People from all over Europe come together, it’s a very international team and it’s really nice to see how everyone is coming from a different background but trying to work together. I also think it’s interesting to be in the middle of the action and see all the different challenges that need to be faced in order to make this project successful. One of our challenges is involving the local community, and it’s very rewarding to see we’re succeeding. For example, with our Film in the barnproject we’ve managed to get local kids more involved by showing them documentaries about nature and I think they really appreciate that.
Role in the Taskforce
My role in the taskforce is mitigating human wildlife conflict. I’m doing this by visiting hamlets in the area which are used by local people; these hamlets usually have very big fruit orchards and we have to make an inventory of what every hamlet has, in terms of fruit trees or anything that can be eaten or destroyed by bison, so that we can better prevent and act on potential human-wildlife conflict situations in the future.
Working in a team can be quite challenging and I think one of the most important things that I have learnt so far is communication.
You just need to be able to communicate to each other about what is going on, I think that’s very important to make sure everything goes well.
Looking towards the future
I’m positive that this internship will help me in my future career, as it gives me the opportunity to experience an important conservation project firsthand, and I think it’s going to help me get an insight into conservation projects in general and also see how I can best apply all the theoretical knowledge I have from my Masters in real life.
Text: Ariane Serruys and Bianca Ștefanuț
Photos: Daniel Mîrlea and Astarte Cîrstea