European Bison Saved from Extinction

THE RARE European Bison has been saved from the brink of extinction thanks to long-term conservation efforts.

Europe’s largest land mammal was moved from “vulnerable” to “near threatened” on the Red List of Threatened Species updated annually by the International Union for the Conservation of Animals (IUCN). Twenty-five other species were also moved from the highest level of risk, while 31 were declared officially extinct.

“The European Bison and 25 other species’ recoveries (…) demonstrate the power of conservation”, said the IUCN. The Bison have seen large swathes of their main territories in Eastern Europe destroyed by logging, wildfires, and agriculture. A century ago, the species was almost entirely extinct, with just 50 animals living in zoos and sanctuaries.

In the 1950s they were re-released into the wild by conservationists, which led their numbers to grow to 1800 by 2003. Their numbers have now swelled to around 6200, living between 47 free-roaming herds in Belarus, Poland, and Russia.

There are also plans to introduce a small number into the forests of south-east England by 2022, which would mark a return of the European Bison to Britain after centuries of absence. The large animals can weigh up to 1000kg, and run at speeds over 50km per hour.

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Oisin Sweeney

Oisin is an Irish writer based in Seville, the sunny capital of Andalucia. After starting his working life as a bookseller, he moved into journalism and cut his teeth as a reporter at one of Ireland's biggest news websites. Since joining Euro Weekly News in November, he has enjoyed covering the latest stories from Seville, Spain and further afield - with special interests in crime, cybersecurity, and European politics. Anyone who can pronounce his name first try gets a free cerveza...