Wild European bison in the Rothaargebirge mountains, Germany

April 2, 2014

The full and detailed information about the European bison reintroduction in the Rothaar mountains(Rothaargebirge) – including the scientific research results – is now available, in the book “Wisente im Rothaargebirge” (print and online).

Wisent (Bison bonasus)
Wisent (Bison bonasus)

Since over than a year back, there are free-roaming European bison in Germany: in and around Bad Berleburg at the Rothaarsteigin, a 154 km hiking trail in the Roothaargebirge, a low mountain range on the border between states North Rhine Westphalia and Hessen, in the NW part of the country. In 2010, the first European bison arrived to an acclimatization enclosure here. After three years of research about the spatial behaviour of the bison, the influence of the bison on their environment (forest, flora and fauna) and the socio-economics around them, a herd of 8 individuals were released in April 2013. This project is a serious attempt to reintroduce a first population of free-ranging bison in Western Europe. Historically the European bison was distributed throughout almost all of Europe (except Italy south of the Po river and Iberia south of the Cantabrian mountains).

The publication „Wisente im Rothaargebirge” provides a very comprehensive view on all the steps of this successful bison project in Germany: from the initial idea, through the feasibility study and the transportation of the first animals to Bad Berleburg, to their release into the wild in April 2013. Each of these phases of the project has been monitored and scientifically documented. The editors of the book are Dr. Jörg Tillmann, Scientific leader of the project until 2013, as well as Dr. Peter Finck and Dr. Uwe Riecken from the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (Bundesamt für Naturschutz).

The project in the Rothaargebirge has an outstanding conservation value, writes Jörg Tillmann. It is about establishing a bison group in the Rothaar mountains, but at the same it has also had a fundamental importance for wildlife conservation and comeback in Europe. “This new model of coexistence of large mammals and humans and their land use rights is of strategical importance for the protection of the species and opens a new perspective, a new approach for the protection of large mammals in Germany”, he writes. The bison project also promotes the development of nature tourism in the Rothaar mountains. The bison have been successfully developed into a symbol of the region.

The project “European bison in the Rothaargebirge, Germany“ is also a member of the European Rewilding Network.

You can buy the „Wisente im Rothaargebirge“ (in German) in bookshops or you can order it online.

The exact title of the book is:
Wisente im Rothaargebirge
Naturschutz und Biologische Vielfalt, Heft 133
Bundesamt für Naturschutz, Bonn-Bad Godesberg 2013
Jörg E. Tillmann, Peter Finck und Uwe Ricken (Hrsg.)
235 Pages, 24,00 Euro, ISBN 978-3-7843-4033-3

For more information check out please the website of the project here

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