It’s always exciting news when a new baby animal is born, but the recent arrival of one baby bison is truly remarkable: it’s the first wild bison born in the UK in thousands of years.
The historic new arrival was an unexpected surprise. Three female bison were released into the wild in July, into the Wilder Blean wilding project in Kent, England, by the Kent Wildlife Trust.
It was the first time wild bison had been reintroduced in the UK for thousands of years. The goal is for the bison to act as “eco-system engineers,” transforming the area with their natural behaviors, hoping to restore life in the woodland and combat against climate change.
“The bison will create a more climate resilient landscape within West Blean and Thorden Woods, near Canterbury, and their natural behaviours restore dynamic and complex habitats,” a press release explained.
“By creating layers within the forest and naturally felling trees, the woodland will move away from being a monoculture, and wetter areas will not only store carbon, but reduce flood risk.”
But the researchers behind the project got one more bison than they expected, as unbeknownst to them, one of the female bison was pregnant.
‘”It is difficult to detect pregnancy in bison as they naturally conceal being in calf to avoid being hunted by predators, it is a survival mechanism,” said Tom Gibbs, a bison ranger at the Wilder Blean bison project.
“Though it was a surprise to see that the younger female bison had given birth, it was always a possibility, and we have created a care plan for the calf to ensure their needs are met. These animals are wild, so we want to remain as hands-off as possible, but their welfare is at the absolute heart of what we do.”
According to the Natural History Museum, European bison went extinct in the UK thousands of years ago during the last ice age. They were at the brink of extinction after WWI, but saved due to reintroduction programs.
“To think that their numbers now swell beyond 9,000 is a true testament to the commitment and dedication of international breeding efforts and, as an organisation, Kent Wildlife Trust are privileged to now be part of that journey,” said Paul Hadaway, the Director of Conservation for Kent Wildlife Trust.
The researchers are now observing the bison in their environment, hoping they will naturally restore the woodland.
And while they didn’t expect the little new arrival, it certainly makes an adorable addition to the herd.
What great news. We’re so happy to see this beautiful baby bison was born, an unexpected surprise for this restoration project.
We hope these bison continue to thrive and restore their environment! Please share this great news!