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Bison bonasus

The European bison is the heaviest land mammal in Europe. The biggest bulls can reach a height of 1,9 metres at the shoulder and a weight of almost a ton.

In the wild the bulls weigh 630 - 840 kg while the cows weighs around 420 - 540 kg. The fur is in different shades of brown and during winter it grows longer and thicker. Both sexes have horns but the bull grow much larger ones. Beacause the European bison is a bovid animal, they do not shed their horns but continue to grow throughout the animal's life.

The European bison has earlier been widespread across Europe but went extinct in the 1920s. A few individuals survived in captivity. An international breeding program was introduced after the first world war to save the species, and thanks to these efforts and the projects of reintroducing bisons in Poland, Belarus, Russia and Ukraine, there are today around 6000 European bisons in the wild. Their numbers have increased from 1800 in 2003 to more than 6200 in 2019. This is a result of hard conservation work where protected areas with open pastures have been created for the bisons.

 

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