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Wild BISON will roam British forests for the first time in thousands of years


By the spring of 2022, four wild bisons will be released into the Kent forests to naturally improve the habitats of British wildlife.

The European bison will live in a restricted area of ​​Blean Woods near Canterbury near the University of Kent campus.

Although they are believed to have grazed here thousands of years ago, bison bones have never been found under our soil.

However, her bones have appeared on the Doggerland under the North Sea for almost 12,000 years – the land bridge that linked Britain to Europe.

The lottery-funded project, led by the Kent Wildlife Trust and the Wildwood Trust, aims to use the 6-foot grazing animals, which can weigh up to 1,000 kg, to rejuvenate native forests.

The European bison, the largest land mammal on the continent, is known as an "ecosystem engineer" for its ability to create and improve habitats for other species.

It is also the closest living relative of the old steppe bison that once roamed Britain and died out 10,000 years ago at the end of the last ice age.

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Bison from the Slikken van de Heen nature reserve in Zeeland. Bison is being introduced into a British woodland project by the Kent Wildlife Trust and Wildwood Trust to restore the old habitat and wildlife

The European bison will live in a restricted area of ​​Blean Woods near Canterbury near the University of Kent campus

The European bison will live in a restricted area of ​​Blean Woods near Canterbury near the University of Kent campus

The giant animals are largely peaceful and feed on grasses and other forms of vegetation.

They are not dangerous animals and, according to a study from 2018, only show aggression in response to persistent disturbances up close.

Although the herd is peaceful, it is introduced into a fenced-in enclosure outside the public footpaths.

They will be on a larger area of ​​500 hectares, where other grazing animals such as Konik ponies will also be used to create a varied and healthy habitat.

It is the first time that bison have been introduced into a nature reserve so that UK forests can thrive.

"The partners in this project have long dreamed of restoring the true wild forests that have been missing for too long in England," said Paul Whitfield, general manager of Wildwood Trust.

"In this way, people can experience nature in a way they have never done before, and connect it with the natural world around them in a deeper and more meaningful way."

The European bison, the largest land mammal on the continent, lives closest to the old steppe bison that once roamed Britain and would have managed the habitat in a natural way

The European bison, the largest land mammal on the continent, lives closest to the old steppe bison that once roamed Britain and would have managed the habitat in a natural way

The £ 1 million project, led by the Kent Wildlife Trust and the Wildwood Trust, will help manage the Blean Woods ecosystem near Canterbury, Kent (pictured).

The £ 1 million project, led by the Kent Wildlife Trust and the Wildwood Trust, will help manage the Blean Woods ecosystem near Canterbury, Kent (pictured).

The British project will likely initially involve four bisons who already know each other to ensure that the herd is a close group.

The animals are imported from a wild population from other similar projects in Europe, according to the Kent Wildlife Trust.

Similar projects across the continent since 2000 have already been successfully reintroduced in Poland, Romania and the Netherlands.

Bison are particularly useful as a form of natural environmental control because of the unique way in which they graze.

They prefer bark to other parts of plants and trees, which is in contrast to many other large herbivores.

The European bison is very similar to its North American cousin, but is considered an independent species

The European bison is very similar to its North American cousin, but is considered an independent species

A close-knit herd of four European bisons is introduced into a fenced-in enclosure outside the public footpaths. This is the first time that the animals have been brought into a nature reserve to help the UK wildlife

A close-knit herd of four European bisons is introduced into a fenced-in enclosure outside the public footpaths. This is the first time that the animals have been brought into a nature reserve to help the UK wildlife

They will be located on an area of ​​500 hectares where other grazing animals such as Konik ponies are also used to create a varied and healthy habitat

They will be located on an area of ​​500 hectares where other grazing animals such as Konik ponies are also used to create a varied and healthy habitat

They felled trees by rubbing against them and then eating the bark, creating spaces with space and light in the forest.

It also benefits a number of smaller animals and plants by providing trees that turn into deadwood and provide food and habitat for insects, small mammals, and plants.

Bison have shaggy coats and can often be seen rolling around in dry patches of land, a habit known as dust bathing.

Practice helps them to get rid of parasites and at the same time to remove the mouse skin.

In Blean Woods, a dust bath would be good for lizards, wasps, and rare weeds, while removing the bark would create dead wood that benefits fungi and insects like stag beetles, conservationists say.

Because of their size and strength, they also form corridors through densely vegetated spots that connect different regions and prevent populations of smaller animals from being isolated.

Deleting paths also provides more light on the forest floor, which allows the plants to grow.

"Without an animal like bison, these functions are lacking in forests, and this project aims to restore these functions," a Kent Wildlife Trust spokesman told MailOnline.

The project is funded with GBP 1,125,000 from the People & # 39; s Postcode Lottery Dream Fund, which was created over a period of two years to achieve good causes.

The Kent Wildlife Trust owns several forests in the Blean region, one of the largest areas where ancient forests have survived in England.

It will be responsible for the overall management of the project, including installing infrastructure maintenance, such as B. Fences.

"Using missing keystone species such as bison to restore natural habitat processes is key to creating biological richness in our landscape," said Paul Hadaway, nature conservation director at Kent Wildlife Trust.

A story of the European bison

European bison had previously been traveling across western, central and south-eastern Europe.

Their distribution area originally extended eastwards across Europe to the Volga and the Caucasus.

It is known that the animals historically inhabit Poland and Belarus. Other countries in which the European bison lives are Lithuania, Russia and Ukraine.

The European bison – the largest land mammal on the continent – lives closest to the old steppe bison that once roamed the UK and died out 10,000 years ago at the end of the last ice age.

After the ice age, humans hunted the bison so intensely that it was forced into the most remote corners of Europe.

Although it is believed that European bison grazed in Britain thousands of years ago, bison bones were never found under our soil.

However, her bones have appeared on the Doggerland under the North Sea for almost 12,000 years – the land bridge that linked Britain to Europe.

The European bison (Bison bonasus) died out in the wild mainly due to hunting, but habitat degradation and competition with livestock also played a role.

In Europe it died out in the wild after the First World War.

The occupation of German troops killed 600 European bisons in the Białowieża forest for sports, meat, skins and horns.

By 1927 the species had completely disappeared from the wild and only 54 individuals survived in European zoos.

Between 1920 and 1928 there was not a single European bison in the Białowieża forest.

The European bison was successfully reintroduced from the animals kept in zoos in the Białowieża forest in 1929.

The first two bisons were released into the wild in the Białowieża Forest in 1952, and by 1964 there were more than 100.

Since then, forests have been reintroduced in Belarus, Poland, Russia, Lithuania, Ukraine, Romania and Slovakia.

So far, zoos and wildlife parks have helped save European bison from extinction, including at the Highland Wildlife Park near Kingussie, Highland, Scotland.

The European bison is very similar to its North American cousin, but is considered an independent species.

The thick fur of the European bison is dark to golden brown and less bushy than that of the American bison.

Both sexes have short horns that protrude outwards and then curve upwards.

European bison prefer a forest habitat in which they live in small herds that rummage on leaves and other vegetation.

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