Population of the European bison in the Caucasus has increased
The journey of the bison to the Caucasus became possible thanks to the cooperation between the Government of North Ossetia – Alania, WWF and OJSC “Northern Caucasus Resorts”.
On October 9, 4 bison arrived in four wooden cages to the Teberdinsky reserve having travelled more than 1500 kilometers from the Oksky reserve in the Ryazan region. Despite the long way, bison quickly left the cages, ran deep into the enclosure and began to eat the succulent Caucasus grass. They joined the other 4 bison in the enclosure that had arrived two weeks before. The veterinary and sanitary standards require that during one month bison should stay in the enclosure. After that, they will be released into the wild nature to graze in the Caucasus Mountains. Before these two fresh arrivals, only 13 bison inhabited the Teberdinsky reserve. The group is depressed and is in need of gene refreshments because new animals haven’t been brought to the sanctuary for over 40 years.
Today, 5 bison are arriving to Tseysky nature sanctuary in North Ossetia from Prioksko-Terrasny nature reserve near Moscow. They will also be met by counterparts – the other 5 bison that arrived here on September 25. There are already more than 40 bison in the sanctuary, but for the long-term bison conservation it is necessary to refresh the gene pool of this group and include new animals in the reproduction process.
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.