Five European bison females arrived from Białowieża, Poland, at a large herbivore reserve

2017 - 11 - 14
Five European bison females arrived from Białowieża, Poland, at a large herbivore reserve

Five European bison females arrived today at a large hoofed mammal reserve located in the former Milovice military training area near Prague. The animals were transported from the Białowieża National Park in the east of Poland, which boasts the world’s most famous stock of the species.

“We are happy that it is the animals from this national park that have expanded our reserve’s stock, as Białowieża Forest became the symbol of international conservation of the European bison as well as the first place where the species began to return to the wild in the 1950s,” said Dalibor Dostal, director of the conservation organization European Wildlife. At the beginning of the twentieth century, humans killed off this bison species in the wild, and Europe’s largest land mammal was saved only through captive breeding.

Actually, the Białowieża stock can be traced back in the large ungulate reserve to the very beginnings. “The point is that animals kept here are exclusively those that belong to the rarer genetic line, referred to Białowieża or lowland genetic line,” added Miloslav Jirku from the Biological Centre of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic.

The animals spent fourteen hours travelling from the Poland’s best-known national park. After the truck stopped about a kilometre from the reserve, the individual crates with animals were transported by loader along a difficult forest road. The animals were released from their crates into an acclimatisation pen, where they will spend about a month. “All the animals did well throughout the transport and after they were released; they rested in the denser vegetation,” Dostal described.

When released from the acclimatization enclosure, the animals will be connected with the core herd. Since 2015, there have been 8 adult bison – one male and seven females, which have given birth to four offspring. “Augmenting the herd will increase its genetic diversity and the radius of grazing, which ensures the protection of the rare steppe flora from being overgrown by self-sown shrubs,” Dostal added.
Those watching the arrival of the bison in the former military area included Wanda Olech, the main coordinator of the European Bison Conservation Center (EBCC) as a globally operating organization which runs the international conservation programme for the European bison.

Photo: Michal Köpping

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