EIGHT YOUNG BISONS WERE RELEASED IN NORTH OSSETIA
The bison herd became larger from the breeding centre of the Okskiy Reserve (Ryazan region). Some of the animals were brought to the centre from Europe and Scandinavia in 1999-2002 by WWF-Russia. The group of bison that lives on the Turmonskiy Sanctuary was also brought from the Okskiy Reserve. Some of the animals are from Sweden, and some were born in Russia. Up to this point, the number of animals in Turmon was only 10 individuals. Of course, this is not enough for the group to be stable and self–sufficient, such as in the neighbouring the Tseyskiy Sanctuary, where according to winter census there are 105 bison, 10 of which are calves younger than 1 year. WWF started the restoration process of the Tseyskiy herd in 2010. Since then, the population has grown significantly and strengthened.
"The cooperation of WWF-Russia and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment of the Republic of North Ossetia-Alania, as part of the strategy for the Bison Restoration Strategy in Russia, allowed to preserve the Tseyskiy herd. But now the main task is to strengthen the group created in 2018 on the basis of the Turmonskiy Sanctuary,"- says Dmitriy Gorshkov, Director of WWF-Russia. - "The place was chosen for a reason. It is the place where the largest massive of untouched forests in the Republic is located, on the territory of which at least 300 bison can potentially live."
Today, 8 new animals joined the Turmonskiy herd: 3 of them are males and 5 are females. The oldest of them is a male Mezar, born in 2016, but the young one is a female Meliten, she is 1 year and 9 months old. By the way, the male Mester will be 3 years old in 6 days. All born in Russia, but three females (Mekrokha, Merinda and Meliten) are from the Swedish bison. All animals will spend a month in a quarantine enclosure. After that, the bison will be released into the wild to inhabit the Ardon-Urukh interfluve area.
"The evolution of this environmental project, implemented for a number of years by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment of the Republic of North Ossetia-Alania together with the WWF-Russia, certainly gives a good result. First of all, the Program for the restoration of this animal species began in 2009 contributes to the ecological recovery of the region, draws attention to the Republic as one of the regions that are able to implement social, economic and environmental projects. In addition, measures to preserve the ecosystem contribute to the support of an important direction - tourism development. Therefore, we are very grateful to the WWF's employees and hope for further fruitful cooperation” - said Mairbek Mouraov, acting Minister of Natural Resources and Environment of the Republic of North Ossetia-Alania.
"Speaking about the role of bisons in the ecosystem, it is worth noting that the very natural landscape of the Caucasus is also the merit of the horned giants," - explains Roman Mnatsekanov, Senior Coordinator of Russian Caucasus Ecoregional Office WWF-Russia. – "Bison is a landscape-forming species. The fact is that bison, wandering through the forests in search of food, trample the young growth and break, for example, fast-growing coniferous trees that do not allow their shade to grow light-loving trees such as oak, beech or elm. As a result, the foothills form a beautiful mosaic of mixed tree species."
Bison restoration in North Ossetia is one of the areas of cooperation between the Republic of North Ossetia-Alania and WWF-Russia on nature protection.
WWF Russia has been working to create a free-living population of bison in the woods of the European part of Russia since 1996. From 1999 to 2002, 57 animals were imported from Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Finland and Belgium. Over the past 10 years, WWF has released 46 bison in the Caucasus on the territory of North Ossetia and Karachay-Cherkessia. Today, the total population of bison in both republics, including 8 new animals, is 160 purebred individuals.