To see pictures go to: http://www.truenaturefoundation.org/com ... ern-europeLARGEST BISON REINTRODUCTION EVER IN WESTERN EUROPE
PROJECT FACILITATED BY TRUE NATURE FOUNDATION AND EUROPEAN ASSOCIATION OF ZOOS AND AQUARIA
Valdeserrillas, 29 April 2016 – 12 European bison have been released into Valdeserrillas nature reserve, Spain, this week in the largest bison reintroduction ever in Western Europe. True Nature Foundation collaborated with the European Bison breeding programme of the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA).
The first seven bison, from Fota Wildlife Park, Ireland, arrived earlier this week. Another five European Bison from Howletts Wild Animal Park and Port Lympne Reserve, United Kingdom, have joined the herd today. Both parks work in conjunction with the Aspinall Foundation who also provisioned the transport of the UK animals to Spain.
The release of the European Bison, or Wisent, as they are known in Europe, is part of an ambitious project to restore the once seriously endangered large herbivore to its former ecological range.
European bison were driven to extinction in the wild in the early twentieth century as the result of habitat destruction and severe hunting. Through the captive breeding of the species in European zoos and a series of reintroduction projects, the population has gradually begun to increase and the IUCN subsequently reclassified European bison as Vulnerable, rather than Endangered.
The fall and rise of the European Bison is a rare success story in conservation. Douglas M Richardson, EAZA’s European Bison EEP coordinator, deems it inappropriate to consider the species as saved, “ There are whole swathes of the European continent that were once the realm of the Bison and these latest exports from key members of the European Association of Zoos and Aquarium’s European Bison breeding programme, the European Bison EEP, are a step towards repopulating the western limit of the species’ historical range. ”
Valdeserrillas is an exciting nature restoration, or rewilding, project. The area is about to receive a UNESCO status and will expand in this and coming years.
rue Nature Foundation will bring in wild horses and Aurochs backbreds in the near future, with the three species complementing each other in their grazing and browsing activities.
Damian Aspinall, Chairman of The Aspinall Foundation said: “ We are delighted to be part of this rewilding initiative in Spain. This is what real conservation is all about. Successfully breeding vulnerable and endangered animals in captivity is of no use, unless those animals can eventually be returned to the wild – where they belong.”
Tony King, The Aspinall Foundation added: “ The bison is a majestic symbol of Europe’s wilderness; we are delighted that The Aspinall Foundation is helping bring it back to the Valdeserrillas Reserve. We will be following the bison closely as they discover their new-found freedom.”
Next year True Nature Foundation will support the release of more Wisent into Valdeserrillas and other areas in Spain and Europe. Henri Kerkdijk-Otten, chairman of True Nature Foundation, is optimistic about the future “ We hope it will mark the start of a fruitful, and long-lasting, cooperation between all the organizations involved in the breeding of the European bison, with us all working towards the common goal of reinstating European ecosystems to their original and complete state ”.
They also have a facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/truenaturefoundation
Personally I think that this is fantastic! (But I guess I am a little bias)
Just under two years ago The Aspinall Foundation did the same thing with six bison from Port Lympne Reserve, Howletts Wild Animal Park, Fota Wildlife Park and Highland Wildlife Park back to Romania - and that has been a fantastic success so far! They also have other active reintroduction programs with Javan langurs, Javan gibbons, black rhino and gorilla. Other one offs reintroductions inclide Przewalski horse, Iberian wolves, zebra and brown hyena. They own their own projects in Java, Gabon, Congo and Madagascar and fund others such as Wildlife Alliance and Bongo Surveillance Project.