Rare wild bison have returned to the UK after thousands of years

It seems the world is consciously attempting to repopulate each country with its old original fauna. The latest is bison in the UK.

Wild bison in Brasov, Romania
© Adrian Petrisor / EyeEm / Getty Images
Wild bison in Brasov, Romania

For the past few years, it seems as though the world has been making a conscious effort to look after our planet. Indeed with climate change, a lot of each country’s original fauna is struggling. The UK has already reintroduced wild cats in Scotland, and the latest is reintroducing wild bison in England.

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Wild bison in Kent

Thanks to various reintroduction projects across Europe, bison are once again roaming around in the wild. Three female bison have been released near Canterbury by the Wilder Blean project, as reported by The Guardian.

Paul Whitfield, director general of Wildwood Trust, said:

We’re giving people in the UK – for the first time in over a thousand years – the chance to experience bison in the wild. It’s a really powerful, emotional, visceral experience and it’s something we’ve lost in this country.

The three bison were released in the early hours of Monday, July 18 so they would have plenty of time to find shade before the temperature rises with the upcoming heatwave.

The elder female bison comes from the Highland wildlife park in Scotland, while the other two come from the Fota wildlife park in Cork, Ireland. A fourth bison, this time a male, will join the group in mid-August, its arrival was delayed due to ‘import complications related to Brexit’.

The goal

The goal of reintroducing wild bison to the British countryside is for them to act as natural ‘ecosystem engineers’. Indeed as reported by The Guardian, wild bison enjoy bark, and will ‘kill’ some of the trees, allowing light to touch the forest floor. Moreover, bison love to roll around in the dust which will create more space for other species to thrive, such as plants, birds, insects, lizards and bats.

Bison will also help with the climate crisis as they help create a more ‘natural’ woodland, which in turn, will absorb more carbon.

A small reintroduction

To start with, the bison will have a 5-hectare area to roam around, which will be secured with a double fence. Once the bull arrives in mid-August, the bison will be given 50 hectares to explore.

Once the bison have settled in, they will have around 200 hectares of forest to roam around, allowing those visiting Blean Woods to potentially catch a glimpse of them. Tunnels will also be created to allow the bison to safely cross existing footpaths.

According to The Guardian, there are now 7,000 bison in Europe, and all of them are descended from 12 zoo animals. Despite their growing numbers, bison are still considered ‘vulnerable’.

According to The Independent, bison haven't roam freely in the UK for roughly 6,000 years.

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