The UK’s first wild bison herd for thousands of years has now been achieved with the release of the herd’s bull.

Initially, in July three females were released into a forest in Kent for the Wilder Blean rewilding project, before a surprise birth in September added a calf. However, Brexit paperwork issues delayed the arrival of the bull from Germany. This was until it was finally resolved and the bull was released days before Christmas.

While drowsy from sedation and in the pouring rain, the bull was reluctant to leave the transporter. That was until the sight of the females persuaded him to venture out and greet the others. The introduction went well and they soon journeyed off together further into the woods.

The reintroduction project is a collaboration between Kent Wildlife Trust and Wildwood Trust. Bison are recognised as “ecosystem engineers”, and their natural behaviour is being harnessed to help rewild a former pine wood plantation. Bison manage the woodland to the benefit of other animals. For example, their appetite for bark kills some trees and, combined with their bulk, they open up trails which lets in light to the forest floor. This helps other animals roam more easily, as well as encouraging new growth. Moreover, their love of rolling around in dust baths creates further open ground for new plants, invertebrates and birds, while their diet and fur help spread seeds.

Mark Habben of the Wildwood Trust said: “The arrival of the bull marks the start of the Wilder Blean journey in earnest and it’s incredibly fitting that it coincides with a new year. I feel a bit emotional to be honest, it’s been such a long time in the making.”

Stan Smith of the Kent Wildlife Trust said: “We want to demonstrate that a hands-off, nature-based solution exists to combat the climate and biodiversity crises we face, and intend that the Wilder Blean Project will become a blueprint for other organisations to take forward.”

The Kent project is currently licensed up to 10 bison and the hope is breeding will provide this increase. Should this go well, the project intends to supply bison to other herds in the UK, as well as swapping with European projects to increase genetic diversity.

There are around 9,000 bison in Europe, but all are descended from just 12 zoo animals. This saved the species from extinction around 100 years ago, but because of this genetic diversity is a concern and in need of encouragement.

These kind of projects are vital for the long term sustainability of nature in Britain and, when the environmental news is so often troubling, it is wonderful to see success stories like this one.


At Natural World Fund, we are passionate about stopping the decline in our wildlife.

The declines in our wildlife is shocking and frightening. Without much more support, many of the animals we know and love will continue in their declines towards extinction.

When you help to restore a patch of degraded land through rewilding to forests, meadows, or wetlands, you have a massive impact on the biodiversity at a local level. You give animals a home and food that they otherwise would not have had, and it has a positive snowball effect for the food chain.

We are convinced that this is much better for the UK than growing lots of fast-growing coniferous trees, solely to remove carbon, that don’t actually help our animals to thrive.

This is why we stand for restoring nature in the UK through responsible rewilding. For us, it is the right thing to do. Let’s do what’s right for nature!

Support our work today at and join in the solution!

Leave A Comment