The annual “Let’s bring bison back into our nature!” summer camp has been successfully held in the district of Ismayilli on July 3-5, 2019. Being part of the bison reintroduction program, the camp was put together with the support of Ismayilli District Executive Power and through joint partnership by IDEA Public Union, Azerbaijani Youth Foundation, Ministry of Education and the representative office of the World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF) in Azerbaijan. Around 60 school-children from Talistan, Tirjan, Keyvandi, Julyan and other villages of the district participated in a three-day camp.
On the first day of camp, participants were given lectures on the restoration of bison in the country and the important link the species has to our ecosystem. Campers also engaged in environmental research activities and a range of games and competitions.
On the following day, campers hiked Azerbaijan’s largest national park - Shahdag National Park, where they observed the rich biological diversity of the area. Additionally, there was organized a visit to bison that were reintroduced to the country in the month of May. Children were widely informed about the species and became familiar with the complex built in the park area, where the bison can safely spend the adaptation period. On the final day of camp, campers hiked to Nohur lake.
At the closing ceremony, participants were given certificates and memorial gifts.
Together with the project partners Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources and WWF Azerbaijan, IDEA Public Union promotes and conducts conservation and awareness activities on the reintroduction of the Caucasian wisent in Azerbaijan. In May 2019, a small herd (12 individuals) of bison, which grazed for centuries in Azerbaijan, were brought from French and Belgium zoos that have made considerable contributions to the species’ conservation. As part of the project, a special area was allocated for the species at Shahdag National Park’s Ismaili region side. There, the wild cattle will get used to their new surroundings in a fenced area, while preparing for its upcoming journey into the Shahdag wilderness. This year, 8 more bison are expected to arrive. Although, the mentioned project is focused on the specie’s restoration in the country, main goal is to raise the level of awareness of public, especially amongst young people through such activities as this summer camp.
Environmental camps like this have been annually held since 2014 at the initiative of IDEA. So far, the camps have taken place in 15 regions of the country (Ismayilli, Salyan, Neftchala, Goranboy, Samukh, Gakh, Shaki, Masalli, Jalilabad, Yardimli, Lankaran, Astara, Goygol, Lerik and Lankaran) and attended by over 450 school aged children.