"Fighting for Wildlife in a Time of War"

"As conflict rages around them, Ukrainian conservationists persevere in restoring the Danube Delta, one of Europe’s most prized ecosystems."

"A livestock truck arrives on a wintry swath of grassland called the Tarutino Steppe in southern Ukraine. When the metal doors on the trailer swing open on this cold night, what emerges is not weaponry or munitions but a herd of donkeys: a type of Asiatic wild ass called kulan.

Once common in eastern Europe and central Asia, kulan (Equus hemionus kulan) have been on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species since 1994, with their population now classed as endangered and “severely fragmented.” The 20 donkeys released onto the steppe in late December 2021 were the second such reintroduction—the first was in May of the previous year—as part of an effort to rewild the larger Danube Delta region in Ukraine, Moldova, and Romania. Here, a constellation of organizations, supported by Rewilding Europe, has been working to restore a landscape scarred by industrialization and diminished by overhunting.

A team of Ukrainian conservationists called Rewilding Ukraine has worked with partners at another reserve to oversee the reintroduction of kulan. The second herd of kulan joined the 20 donkeys released in 2020, the first steps toward reaching a population of up to 300 in the next 12 years."

Adam Robertson Charlton reports for Hakai magazine December 5, 2023.

Source: Hakai, 12/08/2023