Wild European bison are reintroduced to the United Kingdom for the first time in over a thousand years after three are released into a pine forest in Kent, England.
The European bison or the European wood bison, also known as the Wisent or sometimes colloquially as the European buffalo, is a European species of bison. It is one of two extant species of bison, alongside the American bison. The European bison is the heaviest wild land animal in Europe, and individuals in the past may have been even larger than their modern-day descendants. During late antiquity and the Middle Ages, bison became extinct in much of Europe and Asia, surviving into the 20th century only in northern-central Europe and the northern Caucasus Mountains. During the early years of the 20th century, bison were hunted to extinction in the wild.
Early on Monday morning, three gentle bisons wandered out of a corral in the Kent countryside to become the first wild bison to roam in Britain for thousands of years. The aim is for the animals’ natural behaviour to transform a dense commercial pine forest into a vibrant natural woodland. Their taste for bark will kill some trees and their bulk will open up trails, letting light spill on to the forest floor, while their love of rolling around in dust baths will create more open ground. All this should allow new plants, insects, lizards, birds and bats to thrive.