Wednesday 1 April 2020

Lockdown Day 9 - remembering the bison

Many people who know me in person know that I am very interested in all things Russian and speak a little of the language. In April 2014, we were very fortunate to be able to stay with a Russian family on the outskirts of Moscow for ten days. During that time we visited many of the well known sights in the city, Red Square, the Kremlin, Lenin's Tomb, St. Basil's and so on, but also some slightly less well known ones such as VKNDH (All Russia Exhibition Centre) and Christ the Saviour Cathedral. We also spent half a day on the Metro system looking at all the amazing underground stations.

However, one day we went outside the city, about two hours drive south east to a European Bison conservation project in the Prioksko-Terrasny nature reserve. There we were given a guided tour by one of the scientists working there (I think she was the daughter or maybe grand-daughter of the founder of the reserve) and went to see the breeding programme to help re-introduce the European Bison to the wild. By 1927 there were no wild European Bison and the only remaining animals were in zoos and collections. The breeding programme has now resulted in around 3000 wild bison, in Poland - Bialowieza Forest area,Ukraine, Russia and Belarus.

The bison are bred in a fenced off, but otherwise natural habitat and then when old enough introduced into the wild proper.

There are still threats - the destruction of the Bialowieza Forest continues despite mounting international pressure and deforestation in Russia continues also.

While we were there we also saw Middle-Spotted and Black Woodpeckers and a Goshawk and heard a Nutcracker.

More information about the reserve can be found here

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