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SCIENTISTS HAVE SEEN HOW SWEDISH BISON LIVE IN NORTH OSSETIA FOR THE FIRST TIME

03 december 2021
A group of European bison released in 2018 got caught on a camera trap for the first time. The animals got used to the Turmonskiy Sanctuary and gave offspring.

WWF-Russia experts received the first video depicting a Russian-Swedish group of European bison brought to North Ossetia more than three years ago. 13 animals got caught on camera, among which were young individuals and one calf born in the fall. 

"This is good news. The presence of young animals means that the group has seized a new territory and feels good. Bulls have matured and all the animals are in good shape - well-fed and active, - says Roman Mnatsekanov, Senior Coordinator of Russian Caucasus Ecoregional Office, WWF-Russia. – Traces of bison were noted regularly, but it was possible for the first time to obtain actual confirmation of successful reproduction, to estimate the number of this group."

The camera trap captured bison on the salt lick, according to a series of images. It was possible not only to estimate the number of animals, the presence of young animals born already on the territory of the Turmonskiy Sanctuary but also to confirm the fact that these are the founders of a new group released into the Sanctuary in 2018. One of the females still has ear tags confirming that it had arrived in Russia from the Eriksberg Nature Reserve in Sweden. Wintering conditions in North Ossetia allow bison to dispense with supplementary feeding. The creation of salt licks is the only influence that people have on the life of bison in this region. These animals can be called the wildest in Russia.

The Turmonskiy Sanctuary is located within the boundaries of the Urukh-Ardonskiy interstream area, which is favourable for the existence of bison according to natural conditions. The woodland area makes it possible to create a large group of bison here, which together with the Tseyskiy group will form the Central Caucasus population of bison. WWF-Russia together with the Government of the Republic of North Ossetia-Alania is progressively implementing this task. Last year, another group of 8 animals was released in the Turmonskiy Sanctuary. Among them were descendants of Swedish bison from the nursery of the Okskiy Reserve. Negotiations on the import of a new group of animals from nurseries of Europe are currently underway. 

WWF-Russia has been working on the creation of a free-living population of bison in the forests of the European part of Russia since 1996. 57 animals were imported from Germany, Holland, Switzerland, Finland and Belgium from 1999 to 2002. In 2017 WWF-Russia brought 17 more animals from Sweden. Over the past 10 years, WWF has released 54 bison on the territory of North Ossetia and Karachay-Cherkess. Today, the total population of bisons in the region is more than 160 purebred individuals. The census planned in the North Caucasus with the support of WWF-Russia at the beginning of 2022 will make it possible to clarify the numbers.
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