July 13, 2017

And then there were six

Within only a month and a half, six bison calves were born in Kraansvlak, part of the National Park Zuid-Kennemerland. It shows that this dune area, where a herd of free ranging bison live since 10 years, is an excellent habitat for these great herbivores.

The first bison calf in 2017, a female, was born on May 22. At intervals of a few days to two weeks, the births followed each other. In total, the bison herd in Kraansvlak has expanded this year with three female calves, one bull calf and two youngest calves of which the gender is not yet established. That brings the total of born Kraansvlak-calves from the start of the project in 2007 to 29 animals. A herd in itself...

Wisenten en kalfjes in het Kraansvlak. Foto: Ruud Maaskant

The European bison is still an endangered species. Although there are 6000 bison nowadays in natural areas and animal parks –after the last wild bison became extinct in the Caucasus in 1927-, this number is not a guarantee for the survival of the species. Therefore, efforts made as in Kraansvlak are very important: the monitoring of behaviour, choice of food, influence on the landscape and reproduction, provides important knowledge and facts. This knowledge and experience help determine which choices should be made in the dispersal and survival of the species.

The bison that grow up in Kraansvlak will eventually be relocated to areas elsewhere in Europe when the herd becomes too large for the available food supply. These Kraansvlak-bison then continue to shape the natural landscape and strengthen the genetic basis of the European bison population. The bison herd in Kraansvlak now consists of 22 animals. PWN and ARK Nature, project initiators, are pleased that the natural herd continues to support the survival of this protected species with its Kraansvlak-offspring, in addition to the impact that these big herbivores have on the dunes and vegetation in Kraansvlak.


Bison and calves in Kraansvlak. Photo: Ruud Maaskant