More room to roam for wild bison introduced into Kent countryside
A bison herd who were released into the wild in July is now exploring new woodland area in Canterbury after being given more space to roam.
The herd had been kept in a 5-hectare area, whilst they adjusted to a self-sufficient lifestyle but now they've been released into a wider 50-hectare area of West Blean Woods.
Fundraising is underway for the next phase of the project, the installation of tunnels that will allow the bison full access to over 200 hectares.
Within just a few months the bison have made a significant impact on the woodland, creating an environment for wildlife to thrive through their natural behaviours.
In September one of the bison gave birth to a calf, who is thriving in her new environment.
Dog walkers are being asked to keep their pet on a lead when walking through West Blean and Thornden Woods nature reserve.
This ‘soft-release’ allowed Bison Rangers, Tom Gibbs and Donovan Wright to observe the animals and ensure that they could fend for themselves and seek out food, water and shelter, as they had not had to source their own previously.
"They will now have more space to roam than they ever have before.
"We have already seen the amazing impact they have had on the smaller area, the changes they have made are encouraging other wildlife to flourish.”
"It is rewarding to work on a project that continues to capture the imagination of so many people across the globe.
"The Wilder Blean Project has been mentioned by Hollywood star, Leonardo DiCaprio and even been covered across the Atlantic by The Washington Post, this has resulted in people wanting to come and learn more about what we are doing here which is amazing.
“Whilst bison are fascinating, they have been brought to West Blean Woods for a very specific purpose. Known as eco-system engineers, they shape the habitat around them through their natural behaviours allowing light to reach the forest floor and encouraging wildlife to thrive.”
Next year, they will be joined by other keystone species when long-horn cattle, Exmoor ponies and iron-age pigs will be released into the area. They will all have their own unique natural impact on the woodland, which will help fight the biodiversity crisis.
The Wilder Blean Project, is an initiative between the charities Kent Wildlife Trust and Wildwood Trust, now moves forward into its next phase as plans have been submitted to create bison tunnels in the woodland.
The tunnels will open-up a full 200 hectares of woodland to the herd, allowing them to be as wild as possible within the confines of UK legislation; well wishers can support the project via Just Giving.