DRAGOS VODA BISON NATURE RESERVE IN VANATORI, NEAMT
Located on the eastern slope of the Stanisoara Mountains in Neamt County, close to the border with Suceava County, the Dragos Voda Bison Nature Reserve in Vanatori, Neamt, has been a real attraction for tourists in the area and for school camping and hiking trips over the years.
ABOUT THE DRAGOS VODA BISON NATURE RESERVE, IN VANATORI, NEAMT
Constituted as a natural park since 1999, the Nature Park in Vanatori, Neamt has a surface area of 30,818 acres, of which more than 26,300 acres are forests. Apart from the reserve, the nature park also includes the Silver Forest or the Brass Woods. Natural, cultural and historical elements cover the entire area of the park.
It is also home to several endangered species of animals such as the brown bear, the bison, the Carpathian red deer, the fallow deer, the roe deer or the boar, and birds such as the wood grouse, the peacock etc. Nowadays, there are fewer animals in captivity in the Dragos Voda Reserve, but over the years it has harbored many species, such as lynx, foxes, hares, wolves, otters and many species of birds.
Although 1999 is the year when the reserve became part of the Vanatori Neamt natural park, it was constituted approximately 30 years earlier, in 1968. Two years later, in 1970, three bison were brought here all the way from Poland, and were named Rarau, Roxana and Raluca. 4 years later, the first two bison calves were born at Vanatori Neamt: Rosina and Roco. The Romanian cinematic masterpieces The Jderi Brothers and Stephen the Great – Vaslui 1945 were also filmed here during this period.
In 1975, the 5 bison held in captivity in the reserve managed to break the surrounding fence and reached the Braileanca Peak and the Grajduri meadow, where they feasted on what they were missing in captivity: hornbeam, beech, ash and fir bark. It is only three weeks later that they were caught and brought back into captivity; at the end of the year, the female Roxana died of a preexisting illness, combined with the effort of her return to captivity and the effort of filming Stephen the Great – Vaslui 1945.
On November 2nd 1977, the reserve received 5 Caucasian wisents from the former USSR, named Medalist, Mentol, Metocika, Meringhia and Mexicana. Because the reserve caretakers in Romania were aware of the importance of preserving the diversity of species in captivity, they carried out various exchanges; that is how another male – Robu – was brought here from Brasov, following the closure of the reserve there.
At that time, there were 10 beautiful bison specimens at the reserve. Aside from bison, the reserve also enriched its bird exhibit with decorative pheasants (golden, silver and also common pheasants), 2 mouflon sheep and a fallow deer. 1982 was a sad year for the Dragos Voda reserve, because 5 bison were transferred from here to the Bucsani-Neagra Reserve: Medalist, Mentol, Metocika, Meringhia and Robu.
By 1997, there was only a 12-year-old female bison left here, all the others having died of old age; then, 3 young specimens were received from Bucsani-Neagra: Rodion, Rochita and Rodia. 5 years later, the Dragos Voda Reserve bought 4 bison specimens, 3 males and one female, from the Bern Zoo in Switzerland.
Today there are 7 bison specimens at the reserve, and they are its main attraction; however, apart from the bison, there are quite few species in captivity here. Even though there are no longer as many species of animals as in the past, the Dragos Voda Carpathian Fauna Reserve in Vanatori, Neamt, remains the main tourist attraction in the area.
It is important to know that throughout the years, the animal enclosures here in the reserve were created to simulate as much as possible their natural environment, and thus to ensure a comfort and quality of life similar to the one in the wild. This was part of the “Biodiversity Preservation Management” Program.
It is worth noting that although today there are only 7 specimens of bison in captivity in the Vanatori Neamt park, there are also approximately 21 free specimens. Periodically, during the bison mating seasons, several specimens are released for the purpose of repopulating the forests in the area with bison. The last such measure occurred at the end of January 2013 when 4 specimens were set free.
USEFUL TIPS WHEN TRAVELING HERE
When walking the paths of the Vanatori Neamt Natural Park, you are overcome with a feeling of freedom: forests as far as the eye can see, infinite meadows and hills unfold at your feet. But it is worth remembering that there are even more attractions to discover, only a stone’s throw form here, such as the Neamt citadel, the Ion Creanga Memorial House in Humulesti, the Oglinzi and Baltatesti Resorts and numerous monasteries in Moldova.