Bison are living in Spain again

by admin

Spain is making significant progress in the conservation of the European bison (Bison bonasus). That is positive, because the species is on the brink of extinction.

The European bison, also known as the bison, is a species that was once widespread across Europe. The animal lived from Spain to the Urals and from Sweden to the Balkans. It is the largest land mammal on the continent and plays a crucial role in the biodiversity of the ecosystems in which it lives. Through its grazing behaviour, the European bison contributes to the preservation of open landscapes. It also promotes biodiversity by giving different plant species space to grow.

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The European Centre for the Conservation of Bison (EBCC) recently introduced two herds to Spain. These consist of eighteen specimens and they now live on a hunting estate in the foothills of the Montes de Toledo, in Villarrubia de los Ojos (Ciudad Real). The initiative marks an important step in the conservation of this emblematic species.

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New herds in Ciudad Real

The introduction of these new herds was initiated by a private owner who wanted to both preserve the species and prevent the degradation of the estate by high concentrations of deer. The bison play a crucial role in the restoration of natural processes in the ecosystem through their grazing and fertilisation. This leads to the growth of grass that is beneficial to other animals and promotes the natural fertilisation of the soil.

Growing population

Since the first release of bison on this property in May 2023, the population has grown to 171 individuals. These are spread over 16 breeding centres in Spain. The increase is an important milestone in the fight against the extinction of the European bison. The EBCC, an international network of breeders from several European countries, coordinates the reintroductions and management of herds both in captivity and in the wild.

International efforts

There are approximately 9,500 European bison throughout Europe. Of those, about 1,800 live in captivity, almost 500 in semi-freedom, and 7,300 in the wild. The project to reintroduce the bison is generating a lot of interest. Several estates are interested in participating, both to improve their grounds and for the potential of ecotourism. The EBCC is currently evaluating seven new projects.

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