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European bison: Two rangers wanted for Canterbury woods

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image copyrightThe Wildwood Trust
image captionBison are set to be introduced into the Kent woodland within 15 months

Bison rangers are being recruited as part of a scheme to introduce the huge mammals into ancient woodland in Kent.

Two people are being sought by Kent Wildlife Trust and the Wildwood Trust as part of their Wilder Blean project to restore the woods near Canterbury.

Mark Habben, of the Wildwood Trust, said it was "the job of a lifetime" and also "a first" for Britain.

European bison are the closest living relative to ancient steppe bison which once roamed Britain.

image copyrightThe Wildwood Trust
image captionThere will be four bison roaming the woodland

A close-knit herd of four bison will be introduced into a 200-hectare (500-acre) fenced enclosure in the woods by spring 2022.

The bison are peaceful and naturally manage habitats, the conservation charities said.

Stan Smith, from the Kent Wildlife Trust, said: "This is a truly unique role for the UK, it's a chance to manage a free-roaming herd of Europe's largest living land mammal and to develop an entirely new skill set which will enable the success of this and future wilding projects.

"This is a first step to European bison becoming more frequent tools for the restoration of ecosystems in Britain and for two individuals to get to know these animals like no other."

European bison

  • Adult males weigh up to a tonne, about the same as a Fiat 500
  • The European bison is slightly larger and longer-legged than the American bison, but is less heavy
  • The European bison's range originally extended eastward across Europe to the Volga River and the Caucasus Mountains
  • It became extinct in the wild after World War One
  • Herds were established from zoo-bred animals in Belarus, Poland, Lithuania, Russia and Ukraine

Source: Encyclopaedia Britannica

Rangers will be responsible for health checks, maintaining infrastructure such as gates and fences and monitoring visitor interactions with the bison.

European bison fell trees by rubbing up against them, creating areas of space and light in the woods which help other plants and animals.

They also create patches of bare earth by dust-bathing, which provides habitats for insects and lizards.

image copyrightThe Wildwood Trust
image captionBison are huge but peaceful animals, according to the experts

Mr Habben said: "This is a unique job and a first of its kind to be advertised in Britain. European bison are a fascinating, important species in the UK and we look forward to the positive impact that they will have."

The project is to be funded by £1,125,000 from the People's Postcode Lottery Dream Fund.

Related Topics

  • Bison
  • Canterbury

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  • European bison to be introduced into Kent woodland

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