Europe’s Big Five selected!

10 February 2014 | News story

The Brown Bear, Wolf, Wolverine, Lynx and Wisent are the most impressive animals of Europe, according to the Flemish TV show “The Big5 of Europe”. The final selection was revealed and presented to the president of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, during the last episode on 8 February.

Throughout five episodes, Chris Dusauchoit and biologists Iwan Lewylle and Frederik Thoelen, travelled across the wildest parts of the continent on the ambitious mission of selecting Europe's most fascinating and impressive animals. The final choice was made starting from a long list of 15 candidates and by ranking the animals according to four criteria: appearance, behaviour, rareness and the emotions they trigger.

With the help of a team of wildlife experts, including Luigi Boitani and John Linnell of the IUCN Species Survival Commission’s Large Carnivore Initiative for Europe (LCIE), and Staffan Widstrand of Rewilding Europe, the TV hosts determined the most powerful and fierce five wild animals deserving to represent Europe’s Big Five. The species who had the highest scores in all categories were the Wolverine, the Brown bear, the Wolf, the Lynx (both Eurasian and Iberian) and the Wisent.

The Wolf, the Eurasian Lynx, the Iberian Lynx, the Brown Bear and the Wolverine also represent  the large carnivores that still exist in Europe. After historic laws on their distribution and density in the mid-20th century, the Habitats Directive adopted by the European Union has allowed carnivores to come back in some parts of Europe and to increase in number where they already occurred. Such increases have caused some conflicts with local people and stakeholders who share the same territory with those species.

The IUCN European Union Representative Office is currently involved in the project Support to the European Commission’s policy on Large Carnivores under the Habitats Directive – Phase two, funded by the European Commission and carried out by the Istituto di Ecologia Applicata (IEA), closely connected with the IUCN Species Survival Commission’s Large Carnivore Initiative for Europe. The overall goal of the project is to identify practical approaches to help ensure a favourable conservation status of the main European large carnivore species and to secure their coexistence with humans by reducing conflicts where they arise. 

Read here for more information about the project.