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First wild bison in Britain since the Ice Age are already changing a Kent nature reserve.

Just one month after being unleashed, the first bison to roam the British countryside since the Ice Age is already having a “remarkable influence” on the local ecology.

The 18th of July saw the introduction of a matriarch and two younger females to the West Blean and Thornden Woods in Canterbury, Kent, as part of a £1.2 million program to rewild Britain and combat global warming.

The massive, one-ton animals have been extinct in this country for 6,000 years.

Now, Kent Species Trust claims that the bison are altering the terrain, making room for wildlife to flourish.

First wild bison in Britain since the Ice Age are already changing a Kent nature reserve.

Donovan Wright, a bison ranger, remarked, “We’ve witnessed them develop a network of pathways that are up to a meter wide.”

Through deep silver birch thickets that were once quite impenetrable, bison routes are now easily traversable.

I have observed foxes, rabbits, and a sluggish worm sunning on one of them.

According to conservationists, the European bison, the largest land mammal on the continent, are the closest living descendant of the extinct steppe bison that previously roamed Britain.

They are slightly larger than American bison, but they are less aggressive and heavier.

The animals are regarded as “ecosystem engineers” because they create muddy ponds, force down trees, and alter the soil to promote plant and animal growth.

Conservationists expect that they will alter the forest’s monoculture and create wetter regions that will not only store carbon but also lessen the risk of flooding.

ice age

Bison have a high appetite, consuming up to 35 kilograms (77 pounds) of vegetation each day. This results in an abundance of droppings, which help to fertilize the soil and spread seeds.

The birds have discovered that bison droppings attract insects. They have been eating insects from the bison dung, according to Wright.

Wright noted that as the bison have acclimated to their new habitat, they have become more daring and their distinct personalities and preferences have begun to emerge.

He stated, “The matriarch enjoys the bracken and is frequently observed stomping and even laying on it.”

The lone-horned calf appears to like eating brambles. It will be fascinating to observe her expression as the berries appear.

The berries require light to thrive, and the bison are already creating additional light in the forest by their natural behaviors, so in a sense, they are manufacturing their dessert!

Their release was coordinated by the Kent Wildlife Trust and the Wildwood Trust as part of a £1.12 million People’s Postcode Lottery Dream Fund-funded initiative.

With the global pandemic and Brexit delaying the importation procedure, it took just over two years to reach the point where the herd could be released into the Blean.

Within the next eight weeks, a bull from Germany will be introduced to the herd, with the expectation that they will breed over time.

Once the herd has been established, they will be joined by other grazing species, such as Exmoor ponies, Iron Age pigs, and Longhorn cattle, which will provide a range of natural habitats.

Wright stated, “I am overcome with appreciation for the bison and the opportunity to spend time with them.”

The bison have already made a significant effect. I did not anticipate it to happen so suddenly, but you could feel their presence in the woods from day one.’

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