And finally the unexpected but very welcome pitter-patter of tiny hooves.

Kent’s youngest ecosystem engineer welcomed to herd as first ‘Wilder Blean’ bison calf is born in the UK - Kent Wildlife Trust

The pitter patter of tiny hooves is ringing out across an ancient Canterbury woodland as Wilder Blean bison gives birth to female calf.

head and shoulders of small pale brown bison calf, mothers hind quartes are visible
the new bison calf ((photo: Donovan Wright))

The UK’s first Bison Rangers were surprised to be greeted by a calf when carrying out checks on a herd of bison in West Blean and Thornden Woods, near Canterbury this month.

Tom Gibbs and Donovan Wright have been keeping a watchful eye over three female bison since July after they were released into the ancient woodland to re-shape the landscape as part of a Wilder Blean project. This wilding initiative is a result of a collaboration between the charities Kent Wildlife Trust and Wildwood Trust, to combat the climate and biodiversity crises. Bison act as ecosystem engineers, creating light and space for wildlife to thrive through their natural behaviours. The project has been Supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery through Dream Fund 2020.

The birth - which was discovered on 9th September - was unexpected for Bison Rangers Tom Gibbs and Donovan Wright as bison do not display obvious signs of pregnancy. Ranger Tom explains; “It is difficult to detect pregnancy in bison as they naturally conceal being in calf to avoid being hunted by predators, it is a survival mechanism. Though it was a surprise to see that the younger female bison had given birth, it was always a possibility, and we have created a care plan for the calf to ensure her needs are met. These animals are wild, so we want to remain as hands-off as possible, but their welfare is at the absolute heart of what we do. She is being observed by experts and we are constantly monitoring the whole herd to ensure their wellbeing. We always hoped that the bison would breed, but it is fair to say we were not anticipating it quite so soon. We are also preparing for the arrival of a bull from Germany within the next few-months so we will be carefully planning how that introduction is made to ensure they bond well and act as a herd should."

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Posted On: 21/10/2022

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