The war in Ukraine made it impossible to transport European bison from the reserve for large herbivores into a nature park near Kiev

2022 - 03 - 17

The planned transport of a group of European bison to Ukraine had to be cancelled by the European Wildlife conservation organisation due to the ongoing war in Ukrainian territory. Two males and four females were supposed to leave for the Beremytske Nature Park, which is situated north of Kiev.

“Our colleagues from Ukraine visited our reserve for large herbivores in the former military training area of Milovice in late November last year. We arranged that we would provide additions of all the animals we breed to their reserve. European bison were to be the first to go to Ukraine, followed later by wild horses and other ungulates,” said Dalibor Dostal, director of the European Wildlife conservation organization.

The plans had to be cancelled due to the war in Ukraine. “We offered help to our colleagues in Ukraine within the scope of our modest resources. Nevertheless, after the war broke out, we lost contact with most of them, e-mails began to return to us as undeliverable and the website of their conservation organisation stopped operating as well. It is only through text messages that we know that they are OK for the time being. Just a few kilometres from the reserve, however, lies a main corridor used for the advancement of Russian forces to Kiev, so everything may change soon,” Dalibor Dostal added.

The invasion by the Russian troops has affected another planned collaboration with Ukraine, too. “An extensive nature reserve, which also includes herds of European bison, has been established in the vicinity of the former Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in recent years. Not long ago, we managed to establish contact with our Ukrainian colleagues that are co-working on the project,” added Miloslav Jirku of the Biology Centre of the Czech Academy of Sciences. The so-called Chernobyl exclusion zone covers 2,800 square kilometres of northern Ukraine and represents the third largest nature reserve in continental Europe.

The conservation organisation believes that the previously initiated collaborations will resume after the fighting ends. The situation does not look optimistic for the time being, though. “It is definitely necessary to do more to stop the fighting. The European Union should exercise much more initiative in its efforts to mediate peace talks so that they are not initiated only by such countries as Belarus, Turkey and China. Europe had already tried gambling on supplying weapons or sending volunteers during the conflict in the former Yugoslavia, which resulted in years of fighting and hundreds of thousands of dead. We need to hope – and have faith – that this scenario will not come true in Ukraine,” concluded Dalibor Dostal.

The reserve for large ungulates was established in the former military training area Milovice in 2015. Herds of wild horses, European bison and back-bred aurochs help restore and preserve the landscape in it. At present, it covers an area of about 350 hectares.


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