European bison to return to Czech Republic

The European bison is returning to the Czech Republic Photo: Wikipedia
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The Czech Landscape NGO has bought a herd of five European bisons, one male and four females, and plans to release them into the wild in the Czech Republic this year, according to the group’s director, Dalibor Dostál.

It has not been decided yet where the European bisons will be released, but it will be probably in some former military districts.

The Czech NGO has gained the bisons on the basis of a contract signed with the European Bison Friends Society seated in Poland that coordinates rescue programs of European bisons all over across Europe.

The European bison became completely extinct in the wild after World War I. Thanks to an international rescue program and breeding in captivity, the number of European bisons has gradually started increasing.

At present, there are around 4,500 European bisons worldwide, 3,000 of which in the wild and in semi-wild conditions.

The former Czechoslovakia was heavily involved in efforts to rescue the species, Dostál recalled.

However, at present, the Czech Republic is one of the few countries in the area of the European bison's original habitat where the species has not yet returned to the wild, Dostál said.

The project European Bisons' Return to the Czech Republic aims to change this situation.

In this project, Czech Landscape cooperates with experts from the Biological Centre of the Science Academy (AV) and the University of South Bohemia, in České Budějovice, the AV's Institute of Biology of Vertebrates in Brno, the Association of European Bison Breeders as well as other organisations and institutions.

The final decision on the location where European bisons will be released should be made by a new government, Dostál said.

In 2014, the current herd should enlarge by a further three bisons which, like the first three were, will be bought in Poland.

"The European bison used to be a natural king of Czech forests for centuries. Unfortunately, it ended up on the verge of extinction at the beginning of the 20th century and it survived eventually only thanks to the breeding in captivity," said Evžen Korec, director and owner of Ekospo company, which donated most of the 310,000 Kč for the purchase of the European bison herd.

Small sponsors sent some 10,000 Kč using text messages.



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