Three European bison from the reserve for large herbivores left for the Monts d’Azur in France this evening

2022 - 04 - 24

Three young European bison born in the reserve for large herbivores called European Serengeti, which is situated in the Milovice former military training area near Prague, left for France this evening. A special transport with them set off on a journey over 1,300 km long that will take approximately 20 hours.

Two females and one male born last year will find a new home in France’s best-known reserve “Reserve Biologique des Monts d’Azur”, which is located in the foothills of the Provence Alps, not far from the French Riviera and the city of Cannes, well-known for film festivals.

“The reserve in the Monts d’Azur has the best-known breeding group of bison in France. We are delighted that we can place our additions specifically there,” stated Dalibor Dostal, director of the European Wildlife conservation organisation. Three females from the French breeding group should head in the opposite direction in the next few days.

The evening loading of the animals in the Milovice former military training area before transport was complicated by the weather as the access road was very muddy after a rain. As a result, the work took longer but the transport was successfully dispatched in the end.

Originally, the animals were to leave Milovice already on 10 May last year. However, the transport did not take place at that time. “Although last spring was very cold, it got extremely warmer on the planned date of the transport with temperatures approaching thirty degrees Celsius, and the veterinarian then correctly decided not to put the animals to sleep because of the risk of overheating and death,” Dalibor Dostal explained. Owing to the Covid-19 pandemic and the great workload of carriers, the date of the transport was put off first until the autumn, then until the winter, afterwards until March, and in the end the animals departed only now.

“It was one of the latest dates for the transport. Climate changes bring extreme temperatures even in months that were safe for transports just a few years ago. That’s why we didn’t want to run the risk of the transport being again thwarted by the weather in May,” added Miloslav Jirku from the Biology Centre of the Czech Academy of Sciences.

Animal exchanges between reserves are important because they help enhance the genetic diversity of herds and prevent the inbreeding of animals. It is even more important for bison than for other ungulate species. Bison had nearly been exterminated by humans after the First World War, and their entire population comes from a mere twelve animals that were saved. That is why enhancing the genetic diversity of bison herds is of great importance.

The transport had a markedly greater impact on the budget of the non-profit organisation than originally expected. “Fuel prices have gone up extremely since last year. We proceeded with the transport despite this situation as an exchange of animals is important for the future of the breeding group,” Dalibor Dostal concluded.

The large hoofed animal reserve was established in the former Milovice Military Training Area in 2015. It currently covers an area of 350 hectares.

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