Bison in Belarus is not only a representative of the rich and diverse animal world, but also its unofficial a symbol. In ancient times, our ancestors personified this powerful and majestic animal with the forces of nature and worshiped it as a symbol of their native land. However, over time, everything changed, and out of the three existing species of this bull, only one has survived to this day.
The main reasons for the disappearance of the bison in Europe are it is deforestation, disease and hunting. The last lesson has always been the privilege of kings and nobles. At Catherine II, who considered herself the patroness of science, bison were massively shot to study and make museum exhibits. And by 1809, despite the decree issued in 1802 Alexander I on the protection and accounting of these animals, there are only 350 of them left.
In the 1921th century, fires and wars contributed to the disappearance of already rare animals, especially bison in the years of post-war devastation, when hunting for them was not controlled by anyone. In Poland, the last bison living in natural conditions fell victim to poachers in 1926, and the last three Caucasian bison were killed in 56. Animals that were in captivity at that time, according to various estimates, numbered from 66 to XNUMX individuals. In the post-war period, they were used to restore the bull population in reserves.
At present, bison are listed in the Red Book Belarus, Russia, Ukraine, Poland and Lithuania. The largest number of them lives in Belovezhskaya Pushcha.
The history of the restoration of the population of the Bialowieza bison
July 2016 marked the 70th anniversary of the start of work on the restoration of the bison population in the Belarusian part of Belovezhskaya Pushcha. The first bison-producers in the amount of 10 individuals (Bialowieza-Caucasian and Bialowieza origin) were brought from Poland in 1946-1949. By 1953, the number of animals increased to 18, and 7 of them were released for free breeding. By 1968, all bison were in the wild, the nursery was disbanded as unnecessary, now in its place is the residence of Father Frost.
In 1961, after the first Soviet-Polish conference on the problems of bison breeding, it was decided to leave only animals of Bialowieza origin in Pushcha. 114 Bialowieza-Caucasian individuals were taken to the forests of Ukraine and the North Caucasus. And the remaining herd was replenished with 38 purebred Belovezhskaya animals from the Russian Prioksko-Terrasny Reserve. By 1969, there were 63 bison in Belovezhskaya Pushcha. Since that time, populations have been given the opportunity to develop on their own, with minimal human intervention.
Currently, 10 bison micropopulations live on the territory of our country: Belovezhskaya, Borisov-Berezinskaya, Ozeranskaya, Nalibokskaya, Polesskaya, Osipovichskaya, Ozerskaya, Lyakovichskaya, Naidyanskaya and Krasnoborskaya. In total, at the beginning of 2016, the total number of bison was 1428 individuals, which is more than 25% of the world population of animals.
All bison are divided into main and reserve funds. The first includes animals with good physical data, which are of value for further reproduction of offspring. Hunting them entails imprisonment for up to 6 years with a fine of 2400 basic units.
The reserve fund includes old animals, sick and injured, born with any deviations, aggressive, as well as young males who were expelled from the herd during the ravine, and those who left the habitat of the population. Despite public outrage, shooting is provided for the reserve category of animals. Experts call it population optimization and consider it a forced measure, since, due to the absence of natural enemies, bison are not subjected to natural selection.
Problems of conservation of the Bialowieza bison as a species
Despite the impressive number of Belarusian bison, which indicates the absence of a threat of their extinction, it, unfortunately, does not ensure its conservation as a species.
The thing is that due to inbreeding (micropopulations live in isolated groups), the genetic potential of modern bison has become very poor. This left the animals vulnerable to pathogens and environmental changes. According to specialists of the Ministry of Nature, in the current situation, when crossing, it is necessary to take into account the pedigrees and genetic diversity of breeding animals from other micropopulations.
– bison is the heaviest and largest land mammal in Europe;
- despite his apparent slowness and powerful physique, at the moment of threat to his life, this forest dweller can easily overcome a two-meter fence and run away at a gallop through deep snowdrifts;
- moves silently and practically does not make sounds, gives a voice only in case of extreme danger or anger;
- formidable-looking forest giants are actually peaceful and cases of their attacks on people are extremely rare;
- bison diet includes about 400 plant species. One adult animal eats up to 40-60 kg of greens per day;
- animals have good hearing and a sensitive sense of smell, but are short-sighted;
- bison live alone or in small groups. The leader of the herd is an experienced adult female;
- to attract females during the mating period, males use a specific musky smell and arrange fights among themselves;
- a female bison carries a cub for 9 months, already a couple of hours after birth, the calf begins to walk on its own;
- in natural conditions, bison live up to 22 years, with a paddock - up to 26;
– in the feeding area of the Polish part of Belovezhskaya Pushcha (forestry Brovsk), a camera has been installed, thanks to which you can see the symbol of our country online.
Bison as a symbol in Belarusian culture
Famous "Song of the Great Bison" Belarusian poet Mikola Gusovsky is the first work that glorified these strong and majestic bulls in literature. It was written at the beginning of the 16th century. for Pope Leo X Medici, who wished to get to know an unusual animal from the forests of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania.
“…… Rovnaga of the beast does not know the clear asilka,
What and ў lyasakh, and on pastures lyakhў i dew
I was and remained the king over the usmі zvyarami ... ".
The image of a bison in Belarus is found everywhere: on the emblems of the Grodno and Brest regions, as well as in the form of monuments, for example:
at the entrance to National Airport Minsk
Zubr on the M1 highway, Brest direction:
at the Palace of Culture MAZ
Bison Volat has been the mascot of the Dynamo-Minsk hockey club since 2004, is depicted on the team logo:
100-ruble banknote - greetings from the 90s:
As well as the national product of our country - "Brest Zubrovka", Belovezhskaya Pushcha chocolate, beloved by many, and, of course, various souvenirs.
In my opinion, the bison is not a very pretty animal, but it personifies strength and power. I wouldn't like to meet him somewhere in the forest... Very interesting article!!! I did not know that there were so many bison micropopulations. I feel sorry for the animals, they are slowly dying out... When I am in Belarus, I will definitely take a photo at the monument with the bison!