Wild BISON return to UK for 1st time in thousands of years as 1-ton beasts are reintroduced to Kent woodlands

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WILD bison have returned to Britain’s landscapes for the first time in thousands of years as part of a major project to restore nature.

Three European bison were set free into woodland near Canterbury, Kent, on Monday.

Experts are hoping the trio will help tackle nature and climate crises.

Their natural grazing, felling trees, eating bark and taking dust baths will restore things and create new spaces for other wildlife.

The herd will soon have other wildlife companions too, including Exmoor ponies, Iron Age pigs and Longhorn cattle.

European bison were chosen because it’s the closest living relative to the ancient steppe bison that would have once roamed Britain and naturally managed the area.

The breed is Europe’s largest land mammal.

Bison’s like to strip back trees and rub off bark, which creates an ideal area for insects and fungi, allowing plant species to thrive.

Their fur also comes in useful, with birds collecting it to build nests.

The herd will be made up of a matriarch brought from Scotland, a bull from Germany and two youngsters from Ireland.

“They’ve got this remarkable ability to increase biodiversity just through being bison. We really need that in the woods,” bison ranger Donovan Wright said.

“You get this ricochet effect through the ecosystem, so many species are able to benefit from the bison in the ecosystem.”

The £1.12million project is led by Kent Wildlife Trust and the Wildwood Trust, within West Blean and Thornden Woods.

“With this project we’re going to prove the impact bison in the wild can have on the environment,” Paul Whitfield, director general of Wildwood Trust said

“They will create an explosion of biodiversity and build habitat resilience, locking in carbon to help reduce global temperature rise.

“Not only this, but we’re giving people in the UK – for the first time in over 1,000 years – the chance to experience bison in the wild.

“It’s a really powerful, emotional, visceral experience and it’s something we’ve lost in this country.”

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