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Wildwood Trust's bid to bring bison back to the wild on outskirts of Herne Bay

An animal park is hoping to introduce bison into the wild on the outskirts of Herne Bay – provided it raises several thousand pounds in donations.

Bosses from the Wildwood Trust in Canterbury Road are hoping to move the creatures, which died out in Britain more than a thousand years ago, into a 2,000-acre plot of neighbouring woodland.

One of the bison at Wildwood. Picture: Wildwood
One of the bison at Wildwood. Picture: Wildwood

By reintroducing the animals, known for being the largest European land mammal, it will allow other rare or endangered types of flora and fauna to flourish in the area.

The reserve’s director Peter Smith says the project will the largest of its kind in the United Kingdom.

“We continue to lose wildlife at quite a frightening pace,” he explained.

“One of the problems is we don’t really have anywhere that’s truly wild, and that’s all to do with the unique character of vegetation, soil and other animals.

“When people try to create this on a nature reserve, it's not that good – it’s better if nature does it itself.

Chief Executive of Wildwood Wildlife Park, Peter Smith. Picture: Tony Flashman
Chief Executive of Wildwood Wildlife Park, Peter Smith. Picture: Tony Flashman

“Many scientists believe wilding is the only way we can stop the decline of wildlife. Where it’s been done in Europe, wildlife has come back in great profusion.”

Mr Smith says the two male bison currently living at Wildwood could be moved into the plot and that some female company could be sought for them to produce a herd of the 6ft-plus beasts.

The animals, which became extinct in the wild in the early 20th century and had a worldwide captive population of 54, have since seen their population rise to more than 6,500.

“The project will be done in stages; initially a few hundred acres and then up to 2,000 acres," Mr Smith continued. "We may use different animals for different parts.

“The woodland has already been destroyed and been planted with non-native trees; so we want to bring it back to a better state.

One of the bison at Wildwood. Picture: Wildwood
One of the bison at Wildwood. Picture: Wildwood

“We want to do that and then hopefully it will get other people to start creating more wild areas that really would arrest wildlife declines in Britain.”

Mr Smith says wild boars, cows, horses and pigs could also be introduced.

Wildwood has been awarded £50,000 in a grant to prepare for the project, but must raise 10% of the funding from supporters by next Wednesday, or face losing the grant.

KMTV reported on another project at Wildwood which shows Lynx set to reintroduced into the wild

The £5,000 would then be used to make the area safe for the bison and prevent them from escaping.

If it manages to secure the money, Mr Smith expects the project to be launched over the next two years.

Click here to donate.

Escaped animals, unusual finds and news from the RSPCA can all be found here.

Read more: All the latest news from Herne Bay


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