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5 new European bison arrived today to the Russian Caucasus

25 september 2012
They will join the other animals in a nature sanctuary to refresh the gene pool with thanks to cooperation between the government of North Ossetia – Alania, WWF, and OJSC “Northern Caucasus Resorts”.

The bison have just arrived to Tseisky nature sanctuary from a nature reserve located over 1700 km away near Moscow. There are already around 50 bison here in the sanctuary, but it is necessary, for the long-term European bison conservation, that the gene pool of the population is refreshed with the arrival of new animals.

In early October, another group will arrive to Teberdinsky state nature biosphere reserve in the Karachay-Cherkessia Republic of Russia. At present the population in the Teberdinsky reserve consists of just 13 bison, is depressed and is in drastic need of gene refreshments, because new animals haven’t been brought to the sanctuary for over 40 years.

In total, four groups of bison will arrive in September-October 2012 to the Caucasus.

During one month the new arrivals will stay in 5-hectare pens in the sanctuary and nature reserve, to comply with veterinary and sanitary requirements, as well as to help the animals get to know each other and establish a hierarchy in the group. After that, the animals will be released into the wild nature of the Tseisky and Teberdinsky protected areas.

The bison is the largest land mammal in Europe, and the continent’s only wild bull that survived to the present day. The bison is now listed in the Red Book of Russia as a species threatened with extinction. Since 1996, WWF-Russia with support from WWF-Germany has been implementing a program to create a population of wild bison in the forests of the European Russia. With the help of this program, by 2008, the number of bison in Orlov, Bryansk, Kaluga and Vladimir regions of Russia exceeded 150. This size is enough for the population to reproduce itself independently in the wild. After that, in 2009, WWF started to restore the European bison populations in the Caucasus mountains in the southwest of Russia.

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