A herd of eight European bison have been released in the Southern Carpathians rewilding area of Romania, joining the 57 animals that are already roaming free here.

Rewilding Europe and WWF Romania have been reintroducing bison into the Tarcu Mountains since 2014, creating the largest wild bison population in Romania for 200 years.

The charity described the European bison as a 'keystone' species which has a large impact on the landscape, allowing many other species of flora and fauna to thrive through their grazing, browsing and other interactions with their habitat.

“Every bison reintroduction and every birth in the wild is a success for the conservation of these vulnerable animals,” said rewilding team leader Marina Drugă. “Going beyond this, they can benefit local wild nature and people in so many different ways. In this regard, they are even more than a keystone species here.”

Once widespread across Europe, wild European bison were driven to extinction in the early twentieth century by hunting and habitat loss, disappearing from Romania around 200 years ago. Thanks to various reintroduction programmes around Europe, around 8500 European bison exist today, with about 6200 of those in the wild.