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  • Louisa Willcox

Episode 51 - Gabi Paun



Gabriel (“Gabi”) Paun is a Romanian environmental and animal welfare activist, with more than two decades of experience in Romania and other parts of Europe, as well as Africa and Australia. Gabi has a degree in ecology and served as an organizer for Greenpeace before founding the Romanian group, Agent Green, focused on animal welfare, forestry and wildlife issues.

He has enjoyed major success in stopping the spread of genetically modified crops in Romania, exposing illegal logging in the country’s forests, and investigating and exposing the cruelty of the live animal export industry. He also campaigns for protecting the well-being of farm animals and companion animals.

In 2016 Gabi won the prestigious European environmental award, EuroNatur, which was also enjoyed by Nelson Mandela and Mikhail Gorbachev.

Gabi has created -- and is actively promoting -- the idea of an international Peace Park on the border of Ukraine, Romania and other neighboring countries in the Carpathian Mountains, as a symbol of peace, coexistence and unity of people and wild animals in this wild ecosystem.


PLEASE consider contributing to Agent Green, which is also working in Romania to promote coexistence with bears in Europe’s largest remaining wildland ecosystem.




INTERVIEW EXCERPTS


We have been working to help families fleeing the war in Ukraine, and now we are also working to try to save animals... Imagine what happens when people leave, and the animals are abandoned – lions, wolves and more.

One day in Spain, after working with a film crew documenting the terrible export of live sheep to Africa, I fell asleep -- and had a dream to create a new National Park in the Carpathian Mountains on the border of Ukraine and Romania. It came from nowhere somehow…

In Ukraine and Romania, we share nature, we share culture, and the Carpathian Mountains are magical -- soft wood/ hard wood forests, big rivers, brown bears, wolves, lynx and more.

A Peace Route across the Carpathian Range is also necessary. Eastern Europe has been the source of all the world wars so far, and a battlefield for big world powers. Coming together in a positive project, like creating this Peace Route, would be a strong signal that Eastern Europe is united and not divided -- and not the source of war… The Carpathian Mountain chain has been historically a border between east and west. Why not make this the thing that unites the east and the west?

As long as we fight for the bears and the forests, we have a chance. If people like us let go, then the chance is gone. It’s wasted. It’s a problem which unites US and Romania -- we have the very same problems.

There’s a corner of mind that says: “What happens if this work escalates -- and so on?” But we can’t live in fear. If we stop doing what we’re doing, then we’re already dead. And there is nothing that makes you feel more alive than taking action for things that you believe in. And we believe in kindness, we believe in defending nature, people, and animals.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES


For more on Gabi Paun, listen to these previous Grizzly Times podcasts:

Episode 32 - Gabriel Paun, Part 1

Episode 33 - Gabriel Paun, Part 2


For more on brown bears (same species as the grizzly) in Romania, see these Grizzly Times blogs:

Saving Romania's Brown Bears, Sharing Lessons About Coxistence, Conservation

What Can We Learn from Romania's Grizzly Experience?