Biodiversity Protection Beyond 2010

The real chance that Romania has to shelter the most numerous populations of bears, wolves, chamois and lynxes (almost 33,800 species of animals, out of which 33,085 are invertebrate and 707 are vertebrate) is what inspired us to extend this invitation to the world. The present issue is dedicated to animals; it is neither a zoology 'textbook', nor an updated bestiary; neither a guide on environmental protection, nor a review of faunistic collections from dedicated museums; it is not an issue for the literature of popularization (no pejorative meaning intended here); it is, instead, a bit of all these at the same time, plus the awareness that this universe is filled with unsuspected meanings, and at the same time with deep human significations. We believe that the faunistic presentations or representations which belong to a culture are as important as its specialized treatises.The fauna of the Carpathians or of the Danube Delta holds an important place among the European landscapes, the animal populations of the Mountains of Rodna or the mural art of the Monasteries of Moldavia capture attention, the rare species in Retezat or Domogled-Cerna invite, the localities of Hurez or Cirlibaba mean more than spots on a map: here one can discover endemic species as well as very interesting zoo-morphic iconographies. We also remember the fact that the International Friends of Nature association, headquartered in Vienna, declared the Danube Delta the Landscape of Year 2007-2008. Rare species of animals, endangered species, protected species – the Romanian faunistic species are extremely interesting within the generous space of the European fauna. Romania's natural parks, national parks, natural reservations all meet the current requirements imposed by the policy of environmental protection. But European policies must be sustained by a commensurate ecological education. The feeling that we still have many steps to take with regard to this kind of education, as well as the respect to the surrounding environment have made our endeavor worthwhile. Man has been in dialogue with animals since immemorial ages; thanks to this dialogue legends, tales, and an immense literature on the topic were created. Yet we are sad to notice that the interest for the study of nature has sharply decreased lately, and the 'mysteries' which are specific to these non-talking beings with which we live have been neglected. We are also concerned about the current tourism for leisure purposes, which leaves no room for cultural or scientific implications.It goes without saying that animals collocate with humans, and our duty is to respect them so that we can be respected or even loved in our turn. This kind of thoughts prompted great Romanian researchers, such as Emil Racovita or Ion Simionescu, to make great endeavors in their research. Paths of knowledge which follow paths of hard work, paths of patience and infinite generosity of our zoologist researchers.Among scientific data we introduced were texts written by several Romanian writers who have praised the relationship human being-animal and its living signification: Simion Florea Marian and Cantemir, Nicolae Labis and Gellu Naum, Sadoveanu and Daniel Vighi, and so many others. Our plea takes into consideration several presentations: parks, zoos, natural history museums, faunistic treatises, all of them belonging to the Romanian space; we have selected what is specific and interesting in order to be known and appreciated in the wide world. Regions, traditions, institutions, customs, ethnographic artifacts with zoo-morphic motifs – wood, ceramics, embroideries. We went back into the past to the works of specialists such as Alecsandri, Burada Tocilescu, Pann, Gaster, Haşdeu, Bîrlea, Haţiganul, Bartok, which put forth revelations of folk culture. We stopped in the Museum of the Romanian Peasant, in the National Village Museum, and the Institute of Ethnography and Folklore. Data from folk mythology, history, archeology, ethnography, art, symbols, beliefs and several pre-eminent representatives of these domains led to the structuring of a significant Romanian faunistic panorama. This issue can be considered a touristic invitation: we invite you to find out about and acknowledge riches that belong to us and which we must learn to preserve in order to be able to transmit them to future generations. The natural reservations and the valuable museum collections are a part of civilization, while the observance of old customs in which animals play an important role pertains to our education as well. Photographers joined in our effort. Some of them are specialists in love with the Romanian fauna, who carried out thorough research and immortalized in pictures the etiology of this spectacular and mysterious world, enabling us to discover that its life goes on in accordance with characteristic rituals and laws. Some of them seem logical to us, others seem surprising, but all of them are inspiring. It is useful for us to know them and appropriate them. Research has been demonstrating this all along, art keeps reminding us of it. The image gallery comes to complete the texts – and the other way around.Plural magazine has accustomed its readers with the unconventional structure. The spontaneous joy of connections captures our attention and tarries in unexpected domains: a zoology treaty attests the presence of Lepidoptera in the Museum in Sibiu, while a writer has different kinds of observations to make on butterflies. The Romanian Ornithological Society makes hard efforts to save endangered species of birds, while Macedonski, the poet, invites us to dream about them: 'Do come, the nightingale is singing and the lilac is in bloom…' In this way, the sobriety of some specialized material with precious information on the Romanian fauna is received more easily by the general public when it stands next to a superb collection of old cloths embroidered with zoo-morphic motifs. Both belong to the Romanian patrimony, they both entail vocation, endeavor, research, event. Such recent events were the exhibition of laces and embroideries with zoo-morphic motifs opened at the Museum of the Romanian Peasant, and the exhibition of wall cloths with zoo-morphic and avi-morphic motifs from the Collection of the Museum of Folk Art and Ethnography in Tulcea.Translated by Fabiola Popa 

by Aurora Fabritius