On April 24 this year, one of the first members of the European Rewilding Network – the European Bison Project in Kraansvlak – celebrated its 10 year anniversary. In this blog, European Rewilding Network Exchange Officer and bison project coordinator Yvonne Kemp shares an inspirational story about the developing relationship between European bison and the people of the Netherlands.
I can easily say that for me September this year was the ‘bison month’. At the beginning of this month, I participated at the annual European bison conference in Poland where we discussed the status and progress on the return of Europe’s largest living land mammal. Then, I travelled all the way to Canada to show the North American bison conservationists what we are doing over here in Europe to support our own bison species, and learn from the work done on the American bison. It turns out that there are quite some similarities between our intercontinental stories about these iconic animals.
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).
European bison, or Wisent, were brought to the Studen Kladenets Game Reserve in the Eastern Rhodope Mountains in Bulgaria at the end of October. This is the first step of the first reintroduction of European bison into the Rhodopes, an area which is one of the first members of the European Rewilding Network.
Sometimes I feel like a modern cowboy, or as someone once told me: a bison boy. This November, I ‘rounded-up’ two bison in Switzerland and transported them in my big trailer to Belgium; one of many small actions, but part of a much larger operation. Rewilding Europe has an ambitious plan to have breeding herds of bison grazing in several of its rewilding areas in eight years. But where do all these bison come from?
In a recent, three-day period I had wild encounters of similar sorts on two continents. Both encounters tell a story of past and current “re-wilding,” enabled through the vision and dedication of people and organizations that understand the essential role of wildness in a healthy and sane planet earth. We need these positive stories as much as we need the return of wildness that they chronicle.