Long-lost bison will roam in Kent from today in new rewilding project in Canterbury

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Bison are back in Britain: The long-lost giant will roam Kent starting today in a new rewilding project featuring a bull from Germany

  • Bison are introduced to a British forest to tackle the climate crisis
  • European beasts up to a ton and have been extinct in the UK for 6000 years
  • This is part of a £1.2m project to ‘rewild’ Britain and slow global warming

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Wild bison will be released today in rural Kent as part of a £1.2 million project to ‘rewild’ Britain and help slow global warming.

The huge beasts, which weigh up to a ton, have been extinct in this country for 6000 years.

Now it is hoped that the European bison will help revitalize old forests and create a ‘biodiversity explosion’.

At home on the beach: A 12-year-old male bison pictured at the Wildwood Trust near Canterbury in Kent in July 2020 as bison are introduced to an ancient British forest to tackle the climate crisis, conservationists said

At home on the beach: A 12-year-old male bison pictured at the Wildwood Trust near Canterbury in Kent in July 2020 as bison are introduced to an ancient British forest to tackle the climate crisis, conservationists said

Pictured: A European bison in his enclosure with the Wildwood Trust on March 11, 2021

Pictured: A European bison in his enclosure with the Wildwood Trust on March 11, 2021

Pictured: A European bison in his enclosure with the Wildwood Trust on March 11, 2021

Wire-haired bison weighing over a ton to be released in Kent in the coming days

Wire-haired bison weighing more than a ton to be released in Kent in the coming days

Wire-haired bison weighing more than a ton to be released in Kent in the coming days

The ‘Aryan’ Animal Loved by Nazis

  • European bison took a huge blow when World War I German troops killed 600 in Poland for sport and meat, leaving only a few survivors.
  • The last wild bison was shot by poachers on the border between Poland and Belarus 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 tend to exhibit homosexual behavior. More than 55 percent of the montage are mostly young men of the same sex.

Initially, one male and three female bison are introduced – a bull from Germany, a foundation dam from Scotland and two cubs from Ireland. It is hoped that over time they will reproduce to create a herd.

The European bison – the continent’s largest land mammal – is closely related to the type that once roamed the UK, the extinct steppe bison. They are slightly larger than the American bison, but less heavy and aggressive.

Known as ‘ecosystem engineers’, the animals create muddy ponds, knock over trees and disturb the soil to help plants and other animals thrive.

They will be released to a large gated enclosure in West Blean and Thornden Woods, near Canterbury. Donovan Wright, who will look after their well-being at the former commercial pine plantation, said: “You get this ricochet effect through the ecosystem, so many species can benefit from it.”

Paul Whitfield, director-general of the Wildwood Trust, who is co-leading the project with the Kent Wildlife Trust, said: ‘They will create an explosion of biodiversity and build habitat resilience, trapping carbon to help mitigate temperature rise. This will be a huge catalyst for change.’

Evan Bowen-Jones, chief executive of Kent Wildlife Trust, added: ‘We need to revolutionize the way we restore natural landscapes – relying less on human intervention and more on natural engineers such as bison, boar and beavers.’

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