Tuesday , January 26 2021

Looking for: British bison, no previous experience expected Wildlife



Can you handle such a difficult beast as a small car that can obstruct high fences from the start and is a quiet bulldozer for biodiversity?

If you’re not intimidated by the heaviest wild land mammal in Europe, you could become Britain’s first bison.

Two people are looking to manage a small herd of wild European bison (Bison bonasus) introduced in Blean Woods, near Canterbury, to help restore the wildlife forest.

The Kent Wildlife Trust and Wildwood Trust hope the bison, the closest living compared to the ancient steppe bison that once roamed the UK, will positively destroy pine plantations in the ancient forest for the benefit of other species.

Blean Woods, Kent, National Nature Reserve area
Blean Woods, Kent, National Nature Reserve area. Photo: Ray Lewis / PA

Steppe bison were present in the United Kingdom about 6,000 years ago. They were hunted until extinction, and were also affected by habitat changes.

In the wild, bison gradually felled trees by rubbing them against them and eating the bark, creating spaces and light in the forest and providing dead wood to help thousands of invertebrates. They also create bare soil stains by digging up dust, providing habitat for insects and lizards.

Blean Woods is one of the last strongholds for the fritillary butterfly, which survived only because humans regularly surrounded the wooden parts of the wood and provided light where the plant could feed on insects.

The bison was exterminated in Europe by 1927, and only the existence of 54 mammals in zoos saved them from complete destruction. In 1954, the first animals living freely in the Białowieża forest in Poland were returned. More than 1,000 bison now live in Białowieża, and the species has been reintegrated into other European countries as part of restoration and renovation projects.

Bison in the Slikken van de Heen Nature Reserve, Zeeland, The Netherlands
Bison in the Slikken van de Heen Nature Reserve, Zeeland, The Netherlands. Photo: Amanda Fegan / Kent Wildlife Trust / PA

A herd of four European bison will be placed in a 200-hectare (500-hectare) fenced-in fence in the woods, in the first case when animals are brought in to transform a nature reserve in the UK.

The Wilder Blean project, funded by the £ 1.125,000 Folk Mail Lottery players, needs two people to help keep bison as wild as possible in order to follow their natural patterns of behavior and consequently have the greatest positive impact on environment.

Stan Smith, head of wildlife at the Kent Wildlife Trust, said: “This is a truly unique role for the UK. This is an opportunity to manage the herd of the largest living terrestrial mammal in Europe and to develop a whole new set of skills that will enable the success of this and future wildlife projects.

“This is the first step towards making European bison more common tools for restoring ecosystems in the UK and for two [people] get to know these animals like no other. “

Project organizers said rangers do not require significant experience with bison, but candidates will need ecological knowledge, an understanding of animal behavior, and a passion to tell others about creatures. The bison are expected to arrive in the spring of 2022.

Bison researchers will be responsible for permits, medical examinations, security, maintenance of fences and gates, and planning and monitoring visitor interaction with bison. Training for this role will include time in several Dutch buffalo nature reserves to better understand wildlife management.

Mark Habben, head of live collections at the Wildwood Trust, said it will be the “life mission” of two people who are passionate about conservation and nature.

“European bison are a fascinating, important species in the UK and we look forward to the positive impact they will have when they settle Blean Woods,” he said.


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