Wisent Bison bonasus (Linné, 1758)


English: European Bison or Wisent; French: Bison d’Europe; Bulgarian: Suber; Croatian: bizon; Czech: zubr; Hungarian: Böleny; Lithuanian: Stumbras; Polish: Zubr; Romanian: Zimbru; Russian: Subr; Serb: zubr; Slovakian: zubor; Slovenian: zober.

Former distribution: Throughout the forest areas of the Palaearctic region as far as the river Lena in Siberia.
Present distribution: 5 wild herds in Poland: Bialowieza Forest (250) in Suwaiki district, Borki forest (90). Introduced into Romania, Bulgaria, Bieszczady-mountains (130), CSSR and Hungary, 18 wild herds in USSR: Bialowieza forest (170), Sirvintaj Game reserve (5), Berezinsky Nature Reserve (15), Lopatinskoje Game Reserve (6), Majdan Game Reserve (31), Nadwornianskij Game Reserve (5), Cuman’skoje Game Reserve (64), Klevan’skoje Game Reserve (7), Zubrovica Game Reserve (21), Bukovinskoje Game Reserve (37), Vinickoje Game Reserve (11), Danevskoje Game Reserve (16), Zalesskoje Game Reserve (14), Krym Game Reserve (2), Teberdinsky National Reserve (34), Cejskij Game Reserve (151), Severo-Osetinskoje Game Reserve (17), Assinskij Game Reserve (23), Sary-Tsc helekskij Game Reserve (15), Kirgise SSR (15).
Behaviour: European Bison inhabit open woodlands and steppes; old bulls live alone; the females form herds of up to 50 animals; they browse and graze on leaves, ferns, twigs, bark of trees and grasses; seasonally on forest fruits. Their activity is both diurnal and nocturnal. Predators include wolves, lynxes and brown bears.
Population status: Stable again. Estimated numbers: 2000; appr. 800 in the wild and 1200 in enclosures and zoological gardens.
Brief notes:
Body weight: 800-1350 kg
Head and body length: 250-350 cm
Tail length: 60-80 cm
Shoulder height: 180-200 cm
Gestation period: 9 months
Maximum age: 18-22 years
Trophy: Record SCI: 67 6/8 score, 1984, Poland, Dr. JIM CONKLIN; average 40 score. CIC: 207.05 points, 1974, Poland, Bialowieza, Ludowiska; average 130 points.
Hunting methods: Stalking, high seat, with beaters.
Subspecies: 2
1. Bison b. bonasus Poland and USSR, Bialowieza forests. Stable.
2. Bison b. caucasicus USSR, Caucasus. Stable (the original subspecies became extinct in 1925).
Remarks: The last feral bison was killed by poachers in 1919 in Poland, Bialowieza forest; the Caucasian race, Bison b. caucasicus became extinct in 1925. The population was re-established with specimens from enclosures, due to the activities of the Polish zoologist JAN SZTOLCMAN, who formed an International Society for the protection of the European Bison. The famous stud book by Dr. ERNA MOHR, and JAN ZABINSKI for pure bred animals was also of great value. Unfortunately the last group of the Caucasian subspecies contains mixed blood of Bison b. bonasus. Bison b. caucasicus, Bison b. bonasus, which has now been disseminated in zoological gardens and enclosures all over the world.