In tales of old, wolves are cast as the baddies, and sheep as the goodies. The modern version of the story tells a different story - and has conservationists seeking ways to protect the good, the bad and the grizzly.
Project aim: Study on potential and feasibility of UNESCO-biosphere reserves in Georgia
Project partners: Michael Succow Foundation, NACRES - Centre for Biodiversity Conservation & Research. The Project is financed by the International Climate Initiative of the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety.
Project priority: Georgia's biodiversity is of global importance. A tremendous diversity of species in the region and many of its ecosystems are increasingly threatened.
Biodiversity: More than 7,000 species and more than a hundred different landscape types
There are just 20 bears and one pack of wolves left in the Vashlovani National Park. Most have fallen to poachers and herders, either for their fur or out of a fear for financial survival. The conservation group Nacres has marked and counted the remaining animals to help try to prevent them from being shot. While they seek to protect the wildlife, they are also aware of the concerns of shepherds - so they are using techniques like floodlights, electric fences and better shepherd dogs to walk this tightrope. It is not, however, only a matter of protecting wild animals, but of protecting traditional ways of sheep rearing. Nacres and the Michael Succow Foundation are exploring the possibility of establishing a UNESCO biosphere reserve in the Vashlovani National Park and the Tusheti protected area and to connect the two areas with a wildlife corridor for shepherds. This would help maintain sheep rearing as a source of income in a region where increasing land use and colonization pose threats to herding traditions.
A film by Joachim Eggers