March 17, 2016

Bison translocated to Maashorst

Last week, eight European bison from Kraansvlak, part of National Park Zuid-Kennemerland, were translocated to nature area Maashorst in the province of Brabant. The eight animals are all born in Kraansvlak. During the past weeks, the animals have been prepared for the move by the project team of PWN, ARK Nature and Ekogrön, together with project veterinarian Mark Hoyer. The transport went very well and the animals received an enthusiastic welcome in their new area. At Maashorst, the bison have 200 hectares to roam around. In the future the area will be enlarged to more then 1,500 hectares. With the translocation, the second nature area with bison in the Netherlands is in place.

Wisent op de Maashorst, foto: Bob Luijks

In order to pepare the animals in the best way for their translocation, they have spent time in a specifically designed corral. This made it possible for the veterinarian to take all necessary preparations (like analyzing blood- and dung samples), and gave the rangers of PWN the possibility to scale up monitoring the animals. Observing the bison in Kraansvlak takes places on a regular base, nearly daily, by rangers and researchers affiliated with the project. Every month, a special condition score of all bison is done in order to monitor their wellbeing. The bison in Kraansvlak are living under natural conditions, they do not receive any supplemental feeding which is quite unique in European bison projects.

The Kraansvlak project started with three animals in 2007, and in 2008 three more animals were added, all coming from Poland. With the birth of five calves in 2015, the bison herd grew to 24 animals. This natural growth now enables to proceed with one of the main goals of the project; translocating bison to other nature areas in the Netherlands. In 2015, two bison bulls born in Kraansvlak were translocated to Spain. The exchange of bison is needed because of genetic reasons. Circa hundred years ago, the European bison went extinct in the wild. Due to breeding programmes and much efforts, currently there are 5,500 bison in Europe. Still, the species is listed as vulnerable by IUCNs Red List.

The bison herd in Kraansvlak now counts fourteen animals and is doing fine. In case you wish to see the herd in real life, there are several options to do so. The GPS positions that point out where the herd is, are available on this website at The Bison Trail has been closed per March 1st due to the bird breeding season. Still, you can visit the area by joining a ranger during a guided excursion, see for data and additional information:




Wisenten in kraal