The annual “Let’s bring bison back into our nature!” summer camp has been successfully held in the district of Ismayilli on July 4-6, 2018. 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 Campaign, Azerbaijani Youth Foundation, Ecological, Training and Experience Center of the Ministry of Education, and the representative office of the World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF) in Azerbaijan. Around 60 children from Talistan, Tirjan, Keyvandi, Julyan, Topchu and other villages of the district participated in a three-day camp.
The camp aimed to bring awareness among the school aged children about the species, increase understanding of the goal for bison reintroduction in order to encourage behavioral changes that would reduce threats to wildlife.
On the first day of camp, participants were widely informed about the project, bison’s lifestyle, their habitat and the role in nature, and were engaged in ecological research practices, and thematic games and competitions.
On the following day, campers hiked Azerbaijan’s largest national park - Shahdag National Park, where they observed the rich biological diversity and the bison-breeding complex built within the species’ reintroduction project.
On the final day of camp, children visited natural monuments, including the 800-year-old oak tree in the village of Topchu, as well as climbed over huge rocks leading to the magnificent waterfall Julian. A cleanup action was also organized along the way to the waterfall.
At the closing ceremony of camp, participants were given participation certificates and memorial gifts.
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 (Ismayilli, Salyan, Neftchala, Goranboy, Samukh, Gakh, Shaki, Masalli, Jalilabad, Yardimli, Lankaran, Astara, Goygol, Lerik) and attended by over 450 schoolchildren.