Victoria Hillman is a National Geographic Explorer and Research Director for the Transylvanian Wildlife Project overseeing research on carnivores and biodiversity of Europe’s last great wilderness. Follow the expedition here on Explorers Journal through updates from the team.
We have just two months to go now until we complete our 12-month project assessing large carnivore populations and biodiversity studies in the Csomad-Balvanyos region area in the Carpathians mountains. It has certainly been a very interesting 10 months. The first couple of month’s camera traps recorded bears and lynx, but it wasn’t until much later we had our first glimpse of a wolf (Canis lupus) on one of the camera traps.
Over the last few months Laci has been checking the cameras and if necessary moving them to better locations. As a result we have some fantastic footage of the most elusive of large carnivores living in Europe, the grey wolf. Romania is the European stronghold for the grey wolf. However, there seems to be huge discrepancies in the total population figures ranging from 2,000 to 4,000, the majority of which live in the Carpathian Mountains.
The wolf is an important part of the ecosystem helping to maintain the diverse composition and dynamics. The average pack size is thought to be between 3-6 individuals with territories ranging from 100 to 500 square kilometers. We know that wolves are present and hunting in the area, but do not know the size of the territory, whether they are present all the time or are just passing through a much larger territory. The camera traps have played a vital role in being able to get a glimpse of these elusive predators both during the day and at night. Until recently we have only ever captured one individual passing through the area during the autumn. The most recent footage taken during over winter shows three passing through the area together scent making as they go.
This footage is a fantastic achievement for all the hard work that has been put into the project by the team.