Interesting facts about Belarusian bison

Interesting facts about Belarusian bison

Almost five centuries ago Mikołaj Hussowczyk praised the image of a mighty Belarusian bison in his poem. This animal had long been the embodiment of power, our ancestors worshiped it.

Pavel Veligurov has been studying the life of bison for 10 years and does not cease to be surprised by their habits.

Pavel Veligurov, researcher of the Scientific and Practical Center for Bioresources of the National Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Belarus:
If people do not interfere in bison' life, animals are not aggressive to them. When bison walk on agricultural fields, and people drive them away from there, of course, they will be afraid of man.

In some populations, for example, in Nalibokskaya Pushcha, we managed to approach the bison for 30 meters, and it was quite uncomfortable to be with them, because the animal is large.

There were cases when hunters came to hunt deer, the hunter never saw a bison, he wanted to take a picture of it. A staff member brought him to the bison, and there the bison did not like something, and rushed at the staff member and hunter. In five meters from them the animal stopped, then realized that something was wrong here and ran away.

Anatoli Dribas, a photographer, who knows firsthand the unpredictable nature of these animals. He first met them while on a business trip, when editors of the Belarusian Encyclopedia were preparing the album for the 300th anniversary of Belovezhskaya Pushcha. They managed to take a couple of live shots. Then the story continued in Nalibokskaya Pushcha, when they went to shoot with the club of photo-hunters. But not for a long time. The animals stayed in the lens for only 15 minutes.

Anatoli Dribas, photographer:
Four years ago, there was conducted a count of the number of animals. They brought more students of the Technological Institute, future foresters. First we met bison on the road. It was a family: three adults and a young one. We stopped and looked at each other.

Later we were brought to a feeding station, as a result something spooked them, and they ran away. What an interesting look they have.

"Bison have rather weak eyesight, and out of natural curiosity they can try to approach a person, but often their behavior is misinterpreted," says Tatyana Soltysova, an employee of the Minsk Zoo. Here lives a wonderful pair of bison which is very popular among visitors. The largest is the 17-year-old Baron, a very caring male. Now he has a 4-year-old girlfriend Mulatka. She was brought from the Lipetsk Zoo.

By the way, females carry their cubs for 9 months. Cubs are born with red hair and in just an hour and a half can walk! Like all artiodactyls, bison feed exclusively on grass. Among the special features: blue rough tongues and moist noses. They live on average up to 28 years, but females are about 10 years longer.

Tatyana Soltysova, junior researcher of the Minsk Zoo:
The herd itself consists of females and young animals, as long as the calves keep to the females. Therefore, the oldest and most experienced female stands in the head of the herd, and the males leave the herd as they grow up and join male clans until they feel insecure alone. As they grow older, they start living alone. In general, it is silent animal. They have no specific sounds: no mooing, no grunting. It should be remembered that licking the nose is a sign of fright and irritation, it is better to not approach bison in this situation.

External clumsiness and weight to a ton are misleading many people, and meanwhile scientists claim that bison are good at swimming, move perfectly along the swamps and do not fall through. They are very mobile and dexterous.

Pavel Veligurov:
I personally observed some of amazing bison' maneuvers. Even two-meter fences are not a problem for them.

Calves are more playful, they have something like their kindergarten there.

Unfortunately, hunting for bison began even from the time of Prince Jagiello. Under the reign of Catherine II, they were completely shot and made museum exhibits. At the beginning of the 20th century, the population of bison in the Belovezhskaya Pushcha began to suffer greatly because of the poaching of the local population. As a result, in 1917 the last beast was killed. So, they gathered an international congress and started a program to restore the pureblood breed. Now the animals are under reliable protection and are listed in the Red Book. In Belarus we have only one species - the European bison - the largest land mammal in Europe. Over the past year, the total number of bison in the country was more than 1,600 species.

Tatyana Soltysova:
Belovezhskaya Pushcha is the center of bison breeding, all studies are conducted there. In all zoos wherever bison breeding is carried out, the pair is selected very competently to preserve genetic diversity. Each newborn animal gets a chip.