With the topic of protecting sturgeons and other key wildlife species getting more and more popular in in the area of the Danube river, the students in Sfantu Gheorghe (Romania) founded Active Youth Club for the Danube and Sturgeons and had their first meeting last week. The WWF Romania team also attended the meeting to express their support to the 20 members of the Active Youth Club and to kick in with a lively discussion about nature conservation and what it takes to be a sturgeon protection activist.
Saving sturgeons is without any doubt the top priority of the young people as this is the most endangered species group in the world, however, they are aware that the list of endangered species goes long, including other animals that inhabit the Danube Delta such as otters, turtles, water birds. Although they survived the dinosaurs, today sturgeons are on the brink of extinction. The main reason is the increasing demand for caviar coupled with habitat loss and migration barriers caused by human activities. The most dramatic declines occurred within the past three decades only when populations crashed, as documented by a drop of catches of over 99%.
For the youngsters particularly interesting is the problem of the physical barriers like dams that severely affect sturgeons, because they disrupt spawning migrations and confine sturgeons to remnants of the original distribution area. Before, sturgeons used to swim upstream, reaching Germany, while now they cannot pass through the Iron Gates dam that separates the Lower Danube. To understand better the challenges of habitat loss and overexploitation, the children got involved in a game they played with the WWF team.
The main goal of the Active Youth Club for the Danube and Sturgeons is to educate the young people from the fishing communities where the activities part of the LIFE FOR DANUBE STURGEONS project take place in about the cultural, ecological and commercial value of protecting engendered species. Ultimately, understanding the importance of nature protection and sustainable living and all interdependences that stem from them will motivate the young people to develop skills of active citizens and to aspire for introducing meaningful changes in the local community.
WWF Romania will continue with their visits to youth clubs in the region. Keep coming to our sturgeon web space for more information about our trip to meet up with the pupils and teachers of Borcea’s School!