About - Paul White

My first introduction to Transylvania came in 1993 when I joined an aid convoy delivering medical equipment to a hospital in the town of Kézdivásárhely (Târgu Secuiesc). I was only there for a week but I knew instantly that I would return. An intriguing combination of rural Székely life/culture and their relationship with the environment stirred my interest.

I returned a month later and stayed for more than a year. Initially, I was located in the same hospital where I delivered aid to, but eventually I moved to the village of Ozsdola (Ojdula) on the invitation of Dr Turóczi Ildikó. She was an experienced general practitioner in a small village practice in the foothills of the Carpathian mountains. My profession is in health care so I did what I could to help out, although this was limited due to the language barrier. I kept in touch with my contacts in the UK and a small flow of aid continued whilst I was there.

It was during this time in Ozsdola that I met many villagers who kindly invited me into their homes and took me on wonderful trips to the surrounding mountains. It was these initial experiences that sealed my fate for the future. Since then I have been actively involved in conservation work and have hosted several wildlife and media organisations wanting to experience and document the uniqueness of this place, including National Geographic.

I have a keen interest in rural ecology, studying how people interact with their environment and what effect these activities have on local flora and fauna. I have a specific interest in human/predator coexistence, extending from village communities to the forests themselves. I enjoy spending time with transhumance shepherds, understanding their relationship with nature and how they protect their livestock from predator depredation.

Since the fall of communism and the introduction of Romania to capitalist markets, I believe the ecosystem is under increasing pressure, especially from commercial logging. Many would argue that it is necessary for a poor country to make use of it's natural resources, but much of this activity has been uncontrolled and illegal, causing unnecessary deforestation. Although fragile, it is possible to find intact areas which support all the top (apex) predators such as wolves, bears and Lynx. European wildcats, beaver, Carpathian red deer, black woodpeckers and golden eagles can also be found to name just a few species. Forest systems like these are rare in Europe today, where all the 'links in the chain' of life remain intact, which is why I cannot over emphasize how important it is to preserve them.

I hope you find the following articles and resources useful and please feel free to contact me with any suggestions or questions.