United Kingdom: For the first time in millennia, a bison has been born in the wild

Author: Clark Tos
2022-10-31 08:51:11

The baby bison you'll see in this article is the first born in the wild in the UK for thousands of years, according to a press release from the Kent Wildlife Trust. Kent and a second charity, Wildwood Trust, are leading a five-year project to reintroduce European bison to the UK.

Credit: Donovan Wright

Three female bison were released into the woods of West Blean and Thornden, Kent, in July 2022. Charities hope the animals will function as “ecosystem engineers” , helping to restore their own natural habitats, increase biodiversity and combat climate change. The bison adopt certain behaviors, such as cutting down trees, that will reduce the risk of flooding in forests, according to Kent.

Scientists working on the project discovered the newcomer to the herd in September, the statement said. But they chose not to announce the birth until October to ensure the baby was healthy and also out of respect for the passing of Queen Elizabeth II. The birth came as a welcome surprise to rangers, who were unaware that one of the female bison was pregnant when she was released into the wild.

“It is difficult to detect pregnancy in bison because they naturally hide their babies to avoid being hunted by predators” said Tom Gibbs, ranger. The fact that bison are often able to move around without harm to their health was also an important factor in hiding the future birth. 'We always hoped the bison would breed, but it's fair to say we didn't expect it so soon' he added.

A healthy baby

The ranger team will closely monitor the health of mother and calf while remaining as detached as possible. the baby is doing very well, he is already learning bison behavior with the rest of the herd, taking dust baths and playing in the rain, according to the charity. The UK is not the first country to attempt to reintroduce the European bison. After coming close to extinction in the 1920s, the species has also been reintroduced to Poland, Belarus, Russia, Ukraine, Lithuania, Romania and Slovakia.

As you will have understood, this is very encouraging news for biodiversity in general and the species in particular.

Credit: Kent Wildlife Trust

Credit: Kent Wildlife Trust

Source : GEO