Thanks to concentrated conservation efforts and programmes, the European bison is no longer considered ‘vulnerable’ in Europe, instead being downgraded to ‘near threatened’ on the IUCN Red List scale.
Successful conservation of the species includes work by WWF Central and Eastern Europe and WWF Romania. The Life Bison Project have been working on breeding a viable population using strict genetic pairing to ensure diversity. The project also montiors the health and behaviour of the bison populations to ensure the species thrives, and montior how their existance impacts and embeds with the local communities living and working near the rewilding areas.
The European bison is Europe’s largest land mammal, and populations have increased from approximately 1,800 in 2003 to over 6,200 by 2020. The largest single population can be found in the Tarcu Mountains, where over 65 bison roam free. After the First World War, the species was extinct in the wild, making this animal more endangered that the black rhino at that time.
In 2020, it was announed that the species would also be reintroduced to the UK, with a landmark rewilding plan for the Kent countryside. A wild herd of European bison will be moved to Blean Woods, Canterbury, in 2022, and will be closely managed by Kent Wildlife Trust and the Wildwood Trust. Paul Hadaway of Kent Wildlife Trust told the BBC: “Using missing keystone species like bison to restore natural processes to habitats is the key to creating bio-abundance in our landscape.”
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