At the end of last week, the two new bisons that arrived in the Rhodope Mountains in October, joined the rest of the bison herd and will further boost the group. The two young females, donated from Sóstó Zoo (in collaboration with Miskolc Zoo) and Bratislava Zoo in Slovakia, were released after a short period of quarantine and adaptation in a special enclosure.
With the two new editions the group is now numbering 11 animals. In 2019, the first bison was born in the wild in the Rhodopes and in the summer the herd grew by two more calves.
“The animals were quick to adapt to their new home, faster than I expected and after less than two months were united with the rest of the herd “, shared Dr. Hristo Hristov, a rewilding expert.
The bison is one of the symbols of nature conservation in Europe. Their history illustrates environmental success and how in just a hundred years a species can be brought back from the brink of extinction.
Apart from the bison increase in Rhodope Mountains, there is another reason for conservation joy in the last couple of weeks: the species has just been moved from ‘Vulnerable’ to ‘Near Threatened’ in the latest update to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species.
Only a century ago, bison were almost completely extinct due to habitat loss, logging, forest fires and extensive agriculture. In the beginning of the 20th century, there were only 50 animals, mostly in zoos, parks and reserves.
However, the long-term efforts of conservationists result in the long-awaited return of bison. After their reintroduction into the wild in the 1950s, their population increased to about 1,800 in 2003. Last year, their numbers reached 6,200. Today, the European bison is most numerous in Poland, Belarus and Russia. Thanks to our rewilding efforts, the bison have returned to two of the rewilding areas in Romania – the Southern Carpathians and Bulgaria’s Eastern Rhodopes.