Bison are back in the UK: A long-lost giant is set to roam Kent with a bull from Germany from today in a new rewilding project
- Bison are being introduced to a UK woodland to help tackle the climate crisis
- European beasts up to a ton and have been extinct in Britain for 6,000 years
- This is part of a £1.2million project to ‘revive’ Britain and slow global warming
Wild bison are being released into the Kent countryside today as part of a £1.2million project to ‘rewild’ Britain and help slow it down global warming.
The huge beasts, weighing up to a ton, have been extinct in this country for 6,000 years.
Now it is hoped that the European bison will help revitalize old growth forest areas and create a “biodiversity explosion”.
Home on the line: A bison, pictured as a bison at the Wildwood Trust near Canterbury in Kent, is being introduced to an ancient British woodland to help fight the climate crisis, conservationists have said
A bison herd in Yellowstone National Park, Montana (left)
The “Aryan” animal loved by the Nazis
- European bison suffered a serious blow when German troops killed 600 in Poland for sport and meat during World War I, leaving few survivors.
- The last wild bison was shot by poachers on the Polish-Belarusian border in 1927.
- But 50 remained in zoos, and their offspring eventually led to reintroductions in Poland, Germany, and Romania.
- Nazi Air Force Chief Hermann Goering considered bison a noble Aryan animal. He had a small herd near Berlin.
- Bison are prone to homosexual behavior. More than 55 percent of the mounts are young males of the same sex.
First, a male bison and three female bison – a bull from Germany, a matriarch from Scotland and two youngsters from Ireland – are presented. It is hoped that over time they will breed to form a flock.
The European bison – the continent’s largest land mammal – is a close relative of the species that once roamed Britain, the extinct steppe bison. They are slightly larger than the American bison but are less heavy and aggressive.
The animals are known as “ecosystem engineers,” creating muddy ponds, cutting down trees, and churning up the soil so plants and other animals can thrive.
They are released in a large fenced enclosure at West Blean and Thornden Woods near Canterbury. Donovan Wright, who will tend to their welfare at the former commercial pine plantation, said: “This rebound effect is created by the ecosystem, so many species can benefit from it.”
Paul Whitfield, director general of the Wildwood Trust, which is leading the project alongside Kent Wildlife Trust, said: “They will create an explosion in biodiversity and boost habitat resilience by trapping carbon to reduce temperature rise. This will act as a great catalyst for change.’
Evan Bowen-Jones, Chief Executive of the Kent Wildlife Trust added: “We need to revolutionize the way we restore natural landscapes – by relying less on human intervention and more on natural engineers like bison, wild boar and beavers.”