Stories from a 'Land Beyond the Forest'

Transhumant Shepherds - CernatWild Transylvania is a collection of articles and stories documenting the lives of people and animals in a wild and remote area of Romania, right on the fringes of European Union. Transylvania means 'land beyond the forest' a place where wolves and bears still roam and the people have been shaped by their environment, striving to make a living in a landscape that has been unchanged for centuries.

Snake's head fritillary - Fritillaria meleagrisMost of flowers and plants that I photograph are situated on fertile meadows surrounding the village where we live. These meadows provide nutritional grazing for local livestock and a rich and vital food supply for honey bees. It is also common to see villagers picking flowers, herbs and plants for use in medicinal teas and syrups, local knowledge passed down through the generations....continue

Livestock guardian dogs in action"Transhumance comprises the seasonal movement of livestock and people between summer and winter pastures. It is an ancient method of pastoralism that has significant relevance to modern day discussions about rewilding. Paul White has been interested in the life and work of transhumance shepherds since his introduction to Romania in 1993. In this article, Paul looks at the role of Livestock Guardian Dogs in relation to large predator conservation" 

Grey WolfIt is well documented that ecosystem health can be positively assisted by wolves. However, if we are to successfully coexist with them we need to look at the reasons for their persecution. To date I cannot find one documented case of a wolf attacking a human in Romania, so if wolves pose virtually no physical threat to man, why are they feared and hated so much? Continue

Village scene in TransylvaniaA village spectacle occurs each evening which is the norm for villagers in Transylvania but unique to outside observers. After the cows have grazed all day on meadows close to forests where bears and wolves roam, protected by herders and dogs, they are then returned to the edge of the village in the evening. From there, the cows make their own way home....continue

Roma Culture - Wise ElderThere is a rich and vibrant Roma culture in Transylvania, and although their history is full of persecution and quite appalling treatment, I want to concentrate on the Roma of today. It is quite incredible that so little is known about them when you consider their community makes up approximately 2% of the Romanian population, and estimated to grow rapidly due to a higher than average birth rate....continue

Transfagarasan HighwayI am no petrol head so it comes as a surprise that my story of a road trip over the Transfagarasan highway in 2008 is my most read page to date. At the time I was so impressed with this drive over the Carpathian Mountains that I decided to drop the 'Top Gear' team at the BBC a line about it. I never received a reply, but they did drive the Transfagarasan the following year....continue

Bear sow with cubBrown bears have a large global distribution which reflects their ability to adapt to a variety of habitats. There are estimated to be more than 200,000 brown bears worldwide, with approximately 6000 individuals in the Carpathian region of Romania. They are amongst the largest living carnivores and can grow to an enormous size, males up to 350kg, and females to 200kg....continue

Returning home from the fieldsLife can be hard in Romania so resilience and self sufficiency are important lessons to learn from a young age. It just so happens that many of the more traditional farming methods that have been passed from one generation to another are low impact and sustainable. Yearly planning is crucial and villagers make the most of the fair weather seasons to plant and harvest in preparation for the long and harsh winter....continue