Today I joined the team as they conducted habitat permeability assessments for large mammals. These relate to the various barriers to the movements of wildlife: roads, rivers, railways, villages, fields of corn. It's very fashionable for the European Commission to throw money at Romania for new roads and they're being planned all the time. The project in the past has been successful in shoehorning animal tunnels and crossing places into road construction plans so amassing data on what species are where keeps our knowledge recent and our ability to influence high.
Winter is a good time to be tracking wildlife as prints are handily left in the snow. No bear or wolf tracks spotted today but plenty of deer, fox, wildcat, boar and marten. Seeing some beaver damage and a den was a highlight.
Over a hearty lunch of meatball soup I discussed Europe with my ranger colleagues Adi and Bogdan.
Like many Romanians Adi once went to northern Italy to apple pick. He turned up after driving across in his Audi and the Italians were perplexed, comparing the size of their Fiat Puntos and full of consternation because as far as they were concerned, Romanians didn't even have hot water, let alone flashy cars. He left after a month.
The Western European view of Romania is very tainted by images of desperate orphanages in the years after the fall of the Soviet Union. Romania wasn't in it but was in its sphere of influence. I doubt many have given Romania a second thought since then, until voting to disallow them the right to work in the UK. It means an antiquated view of Romania persists.
I've written about rural poverty but there are dynamic cities and Romania is a hub for IT developers seeking cheaper labour. It's reported that the average wage in Romania has doubled in 7 years. For any Italian orchard owner, or Brexiter wondering what a Romanian can contribute to the economy, it would be worth remembering that pace of advancement in most European nations hasn't been since since the industrial revolution.
The image is of the partially frozen Mures River. Hearing the thawing and loud cracking was a wonderful experience usually reserved for documentaries.