The protection of the European bison has a long history; between the 15th and 18th Century those in the Tzar's Royal Hunting Forest of Bialowieza were protected and their diet supplemented (3). Efforts to restore this species to the wild began in 1948 with the establishment of the Bison Breeding Centre within the Prioksko-Terrasny Biosphere Reserve (8). Re-introductions of captive-bred individuals to this area began in the 1950s and the herds have grown successfully (3); re-introductions to date have occurred in Belarus, Poland, Russia and the Ukraine (5). The aim of the Bison Specialist Group of the World Conservation Union (IUCN) is to establish a total free-ranging population of around 6,000 animals from two different lineages (4). The re-introduction of the European bison represents a remarkable conservation success story.
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