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Joining Forces to Protect Hungarian Wolves


Joining Forces to Protect Hungarian Wolves

Photo: Edwin Wiesbers WWF

WWF Hungary together with Aggtelek National Park have launched a joint research project aimed at protecting Hungarian wolves. The two key players in domestic wolf conservation signed an agreement to combat the destruction of the wolves’ forest habitats, and calling attention to and stopping the illegal shooting of wolves. World champion boxer Zsolt Erdei stands behind this important conservation programme and has lent his face to the campaign.

On November 24, 2014 WWF Hungary and the Aggtelek National Park Directorate adopted a memorandum of cooperation for research purposes. The document was signed at the Budakeszi Wildlife Park by Director Balazs Veress (ANPI) and Akos Fáth, Director of WWF Hungary.

Photo: Gálhidy László WWF

The Wildlife Park also maintains its own species protection program. The joint research is an important step, complementing and extending the knowledge gathered through on-going similar work on the lynx.

Although their presence is essential for the healthy functioning of the forest ecosystem, the lack of undisturbed forest areas combined with illegal shootings pose extraordinary risks to the wolves. Wolves help regulate populations of herbivore species such as deer, roe deer and wild boar, and thus to contribute to the regeneration of forest vegetation.

Contrary to popular belief, wolves do not attack humans. Domesticated animals may be protected by guard dogs or appropriate fences.

Within the boundaries of Aggtelek National Park, the presence of large carnivores such as wolves has been monitored for decades.

An important stage of research on large carnivores in the Gömör-Torna Karst and Zemplén ended this year. Aggtelek National Park and the East Slovakian Museum in Košice collaborated and coordinated activities, investigating the situation on both sides of the border as well as the trans-boundary zone. The majority of the necessary field equipment and instrumentation was obtained within the framework of the Hungary-Slovakia Cross-Border Co-operation Programme. The entire project grant totalled approximately 500,000 Euro.

The aim of the research was the examination of the ecological peculiarities of the resettled domestic wolf subpopulation in the trans-boundary region between Slovakia and Hungary. Based on the gathered data from non-invasive methods (genotyping by faeces and urine samples), individuals and family relations in the packs were identified. The collected samples were established GPS coordinates from which a map of the wolves’ range could be drawn.

WWF Hungary has been working for the protection of natural forest habitats for more than 20 years. Research, awareness-raising and the fight against illegal shooting of wolves is conducted within the framework of its Wolf Conservation Programme.

"Despite the fact that the wolf has been a protected species in Hungary since 1993, and shooting wolves carrying a several year prison sentence, illegal shooting of these animals continues to this day. Hate and trophy hunting both play a role. Catching poachers in the act is very difficult." - said Akos Fáth, Director of WWF Hungary. He added, “This is why we think it important to draw the attention of our supporters to this situation and to stand with us in our fight to protect the wolves and their habitat."

Photo: Gálhidy László WWF

World champion boxer Zsolt "The Bird" Erdei presented the campaign for WWF Hungary, stressing responsibility and the importance of conservation. "Nature protection has been important to me since childhood. I show respect for wildlife and sustainable living every day. I raise my children in this spirit as well. This is why I have gladly undertaken the task to raise awareness about wolf protection and become a wolf foster parent. My little daughter's room is even decorated with plush wolves."- said the athlete.

Photo: Gálhidy László WWF

Under the WWF wolf adoption programme anyone can join the initiative. Donors receive an honorary certificate of foster parenthood as well as a plush toy wolf to place under the Christmas tree symbolising their personal effort to protect the wolf and the national forests.
More: www.wwf.hu/farkas

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