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Europe and Central Asia
20 Oct 2014

Autumn of discoveries: SOR welcomes new findings in the Romanian flora and fauna

Orobanche pubescens, by Matis Attila
By Alessia Calderalo

For the Romanian Ornithological Society (SOR, BirdLife Partner) the autumn of 2014 will be remembered as one of the most rewarding periods since the society began its work in conservation. Two important discoveries have been made in the area of Romanian flora and fauna; our colleagues in SOR are proud to share them with the BirdLife Partnership.

The first good news came in early May, when biologist Matis Attila was mapping habitats in the Dumbrăveni Forest Natural Reserve, a Natura 2000 site. While working, he discovered a plant that had never been seen in Romania before- the Hairy Broomrape Orobanche pubescens. However, it was not until September that he was able to confirm his identification. This plant normally lives in the Mediterranean Basin, in countries such as Greece and even Bulgaria, but not in Romania. “It is not an invasive species because it was not brought artificially into our ecosystem. Maybe the plant has been here before and nobody noticed, since the members of the Orobanchaceae family are hard to determine”, said Matis. Hairy Broomrape is a parasite that takes its water and minerals from the roots of a host plant. From now on, anyone who is interested in seeing the Orobanche pubescens will have be able to do so at the Alexandru Borza Botanical Garden in Cluj-Napoca, where it will be growing with the other 650,000 plants of their collection.

 

The second, very exciting moment came with the discovery of several specimens of Javelin sand boa Eryx jaculus, a non-poisonous, non-aggressive snake that had not been seen alive in Romania since 1937. The anonymous person who made the finding reported it via a Facebook message to Vlad Cioflec, herpetologist and SOR member, noting the discovery of one specimen of this small snake. Vlad set up a team with Corina, his wife and fellow herpetologist together with wildlife photographer, Doru Panaitescu. The trio promptly went to the site, where they discovered other individuals: a female and six youngsters that were photographed, filmed and returned to their burrows. In 1986 and again in 2011, individual snakes were found dead in Romania, but no Javelin sand boa had been found alive in the country since before World War II. The fact that not only one but seven individuals have been found this time gives the experts reason to think that a viable population is possible in Romania.

 

 

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Javelin sand boa, by Vlad Cioflec

Both discoveries have raised the hopes of biologists at SOR, whose work is dedicated to ensuring that Romanian ecosystems expand in variety and richness. If you wish to know more about these findings, please contact Ovidiu Bufnila, Communications Officer at SOR.


Stichting BirdLife Europe gratefully acknowledges financial support from the European Commission. All content and opinions expressed on these pages are solely those of Stichting BirdLife Europe.