Over 70 school children from Bunud, Vandam, Tuntul, Yengija, Nohurgishlag, Amirvan, Bilikh, Topbagh and Malikli villigaes of Gabala region participated in IDEA’s 3-day summer camp that was dedicated to European bison for the first time in Azerbaijan. Supported by the Ministry of Education of the Republic of Azerbaijan as well as the representative office of World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF), the new camp was conducted as part of the developing bison reintroduction program and carried the slogan “Let’s bring bison back into our nature!”.
The camp aimed to increase the school aged children’s knowledge about the bison species that once roamed throughout Azerbaijan but became extinct in the 19th century. The campers had the opportunity to learn about the ecological significance of these iconic animals and the important work that is being done to protect them. The camp program involved a number of hands-on activities that helped children to understand nature and develop a sense of respect and care toward it.
The Caucasian wisent, a subspecies of wisent, which grazed for centuries in Azerbaijan, has wiped out during the historical times due to excessive hunting. Bringing them back would restore their missing role in the region’s ecosystem. The decision to reintroduce the bison has been made based on the extensive research conducted by leading local and international specialists in the recent years. It was found that the nature of Azerbaijan has favorable conditions for the bison to thrive.
The bison project has been launched by IDEA, Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources and WWF-Azerbaijan, at the initiative of Vice-president of Heydar Aliyev Foundation, and IDEA founder Ms. Leyla Aliyeva. Within the framework of the project, a bison-breeding complex is being constructed at the 30-hectar area in Shahdag National Park, where healthy herd will be bred and released into the wild. One of the most crucial phases of the project is to raise the level of awareness of public, especially amongst young people through such activities as the summer camp.
IDEA Environmental camps have been annually held since 2014 in over 10 regions of the country (Salyan, Neftchala, Goranboy, Samukh, Gakh, Shaki, Masalli, Jalilabad, Yardimli, Lankaran, Astara, Goygol, Gabala) and attended by over 300 schoolchildren.