March 10, 2007

Prince Bernhard Culture Fund supports wisent project

The Prince Bernhard Culture Fund has granted 50,000 euros for accompanying research into the wisents that are to be released into the Kraansvlak area near Overveen in spring 2007. The grant is from the Robert Persman Fund, one of their culture funds bearing individual names.

The Kraansvlak is part of the Kennemer Dunes, situated between Zandvoort and Bloemendaal. The wisents come to live in a highly varied dune section with grassland, wood and thickets and will have to find their own food. A small dune lake ensures that the animals are also independent with regard to their drinking water supply. Expectations are that the animals will eat a lot of grass, trees and scrub, species that have become very dominant in the past few years by various causes. In addition, the animals love taking sand baths and use fully-grown trees as rub posts. The researchers, just like area manager PWN and ARK, the owner of the wisents, are very curious to know the effects of the wisents on the dune landscape and the other animals in the area. At a later stage the effects on other grazing animals in the dunes will be studied as well.

The wisents come to live in an area which has always been closed to the public. From two viewpoints, however, the area can be watched. It will also be studied how the public and wisents will go together. Depending on the outcome, it is considered to provide guided excursions in the wisent territory as of 2008.

Besides gaining knowledge, another objective of the project is making a contribution to the preservation of the species. In the past century the wisent was close to extinction. Now their number has increased to 3000 again, thanks to breeding programmes with 12 left animals held in captivity. Most animals live in Eastern Europe. The population can only grow if more areas become available for them to live. In addition, wider geographical distribution will diminish the threats to survival of this species in case of breakouts of diseases.


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