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My Son Is A Bison...


A little bison called Murzilka lives in a spacious open-air cage in the Prioksko-Terrasny biosphere reserve, eats well and occasionally meets with its adoptive parents – they specially come over from town to visit their “son”. It has been several months already that Vitaly Chubiy and Elena Kolomenskaya adopted a baby bison.

This summer the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has launched a new project under the inviting slogan “Adopt a Bison”. To become related with the biggest animal of Europe, the only thing to be done is to pay for its annual maintenance in the farm – the payment makes approximately $1,500. This money will be spent on your adopted “daughter” or “son” to be fed, healed (if it falls ill) and treated in such a way that its childhood and then adult life were happy. For this move you will get not only moral satisfaction from the good deed, but also some glory: a tablet with your name written on it will be installed near the open-air cage fence. Moreover, you will be awarded the “Custodian of the Earth” title.

You might think that $1,500 is too much even for a bison. However, the bison needs 2 tons of hay alone per year. And this is not the major fodder yet. Bisons, like any ruminant animals are constantly ruminating. To ruminate sufficiently, a single bison needs 5 hectares of wood at its disposal – bisons need wood in particular because these animals like not only to ruminate grass, but also to nibble twigs from the trees.

The first participants to the project are already in place - administration of the town of Puschino and the family of Vitaly Chubiy and Elena Kolomenskaya. The family explains: “We have become adherents of the WWF long ago, but it does not seem interesting to simply pay membership dues and we decided to take part in some program. When we were offered to adopt a baby bison and to choose a name for it, we agreed with joy. Now we have an adopted son Murzilka.”

By launching a project titled “Adopt a Bison” the WWF hopes to attract in such a way the Russians’ attention to funding the bison farms – previously, the funds came primarily from abroad. “The bisons are our national property, and we must preserve it”, says Vladimir Krever, coordinator of the WWF programs for biodiversity preservation. The Fund counts first of all on the feedback of socially oriented business. “The first “adopters” set a good example to the majority of business representatives, who wish to help Russian nature by specific deeds and to leave good memory about themselves,” says Sergei Burmistrov, head of the WWF program called “Reserves and National Parks of Russia”.

Why is it that so much attention is paid to bisons? The bison is the only European wild bull that has lived to see nowadays, it is a kind of live monument to nature. By the way, the Zoos must be thanked for preserving bisons alive: by the beginning of the 20th century, wild bisons were fully exterminated, there remained only 52 animals in the Zoos. Fortunately, the Zoos started rearing of these animals on time. Later, preserves got engaged in this effort.

By 1996, when the WWF set about, Russia counted about 300 bisons. Then the Fund decided to release bisons at large in the middle zone of Russia to create a free bison population in the areas of their original habitat - in the Orel, Ryazan, Kaluga, Bryansk and Vladimir Regions. Currently, these areas are inhabited by more than 90 bisons, and nearly 20 baby bisons were already born at large. So, the animals feel quite comfortable there.

However, we can be sure that a free bison population is in perfect security only when one thousand animals inhibits the woods. Therefore, the WWF continues to look for new bisons at the Zoos of different countries to release them in Russian woods (within eight years, 59 bisons moved to Russia from the Netherlands, Switzerland, Germany, Finland) and raise funds for bisons’ maintenance in the farms of Russian preserves (every year, 10 to 15 little bisons are released at large from the farms).

Sergey Komarov | alfa
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