Large carnivores live around us and they are part of this country
Location: Brezno – Slovakia,
Story by: Tamara Tesakova
Tamara Tesakova is a farmer living close to the Muranska planina National Park in Slovakia. Tamara moved back to her Slovakian home after 30 years working as IT expert in big offices in Germany and France. She bought a piece of land and decided to become a farmer. She lives in the region where people live out their traditions and have strong connection with nature. Connection of people to the landscape, local customs and authenticity of natural treasures makes the region worth living in. Large carnivores are part of the country and Tamara accepts it without feeling fear.
Horehronie region near the Muranska planina National Park in the Western Carpathians is an untouched natural treasure. It is located in the heart of Slovakia and endangered species like bears, wolves and wild horses live in the forests in a protected habitat. Tamara has never been the farmer. The yearning for her family brought her back to her homeland after living abroad for many years. She likes that people are closer to the nature and countryside and get involved in the simple common life. Tamara takes care of everything on the farm by herself. She chops the wood and feeds the animals. But she needs support from her family and friends. Neighbours are helping her with a field work and her brother with sheep and animals. However, all of them are well aware of large carnivores around as they are part of the country.
Tamara is self-sustaining. She makes everything at home and none of her dishes come from the supermarket. She produces sheep cheese and the typical Slovakian bryndza. Tamara barely does any shopping anymore. She learned how to make sour cabbage along with making cheese. She makes wine and bakes bread. After 30 years of cafeteria food, she is happy to have the flavours of her childhood. Ever since Tamara moved back to her homeland, the house has become the family’s meeting point. Animal care involves a lot of work. But Tamara never regretted her decision of leading a simple life on a farm.
Tamara’s livestock are grazing meadows from spring to autumn. She is lucky, that there has not been any attack of large carnivores yet. She never saw bears, and haven’t occurred lynx but during winter they have observed signs that wolves are present. However, she heard from neighbours on the opposite hill about a bear, that attacked and killed some calves and sheep.
I know that large carnivores are around and that they might pose a threat to livestock grazing the pastures but I don’t fear them.”
Tourism is an activity that an bring society closer to large carnivores and increase the real knowledge on the species among citizens. When the participants observe these animals in the wild, a bond is created and the awareness of the needs and the lifestyle of the animals is rising. For some, this experience is a dream come true. There are a lot of different activities that can be offered: photo tourism, talks, field trips with biological materials (skulls and skins), tracking courses or observation trips. Also a visit to a shepherd and other people who have historically shared the territory can be arranged to let the public know.
Bear-safe garbage containers
Preventing access to rubbish is a very important activity to avoid conflicts between bears and human. The containers should be specially designed so that bears were neither able to open nor destroy them. They should be placed along busy mountain trails or in car parks, where people leave a lot of waste, including organic waste. In addition several electric fences can be installed to protect large garbage containers located near mountain huts, in garbage sorting areas and to protect composters. These safeguards are only 100% effective if the waste is placed inside the containers. If the garbage is outside, the smell of the garbage will attract animals.
Tamara enjoys large carnivores and the country surrounded by wildlife provides a certain value for her. She likes a bit of adrenalin that such life provides.
“Wolves also used to cause some damage. But I don’t feel fear, because I thing that they are no danger for us humans. They live here around us and they are part of this country with all the positive and negative sides it brings.”