Transhumance has been practised in Transylvania for more than a thousand years, supported by tried and tested methods of pastoral animal husbandry. A high level of supervision is required by both shepherds and dogs to protect grazing flocks from predation by large numbers of brown bears and wolves that roam across the Carpathian mountains.
Local transhumant shepherds have taught me some valuable lessons in conservation who view the mountains and forests as their bread basket, something to be nurtured and cared for, as without it they are fully aware their traditional way of life would soon end. They see the wolves and brown bears as part of that environment and believe that they have equal right to be there. They are not armed and when sheep and goats are taken, they don’t call for predators to be culled as they expect some losses throughout the year. They may not be aware of it but these pastoral shepherds best demonstrate the harmony that is possible between humans, wildlife and environment.
Traditional transhumant shepherding of this kind is rarely seen in western Europe, requiring tough and hardy characters to protect their livestock from bears and wolves from early spring to late autumn. They move through forest covered mountains to open clearings rich in grass and meadow flowers. Once grazed the shepherds move on leaving the meadow layered with droppings fertilising the soil ready for fresh growth. The meat, milk and cheese produced from this chemical free grazing is delicious and truly organic. Good quality food production in harmony with the environment is not a new concept as these shepherds and their ancestors have aptly proved.read more