There is a small herd of bison and water buffalo stranded in a dire situation. They urgently require moving. The situation is critical. If they are not moved soon, then they face certain death.
Just over a month ago, in late January, a severe cold wave and heavy snowstorms hit the Valencia region of Spain, this was followed by torrential rain and flooding. As a result of this Valdeserrillas Nature Reserve, in La Serrania, close to Valencia, has been severely affected. The infrastructure of the reserve has been seriously damaged. Landslides and falling trees have destroyed the fences in 47 different places, and roads have been blocked by trees or washed away due to erosion.
As a result, three European bison, and five water buffalo, have escaped from the reserve and have yet to be found. The authorities are assisting in the search and collection of the animals, but they have not been discovered in the mountain forest around the reserve.
Important facilities like the water supply system have been damaged. Bison and other animals present in the reserve, like water buffalo, horses, and donkeys, have no immediate water supply. They will die of thirst if we don’t provide immediate help.
Sadly, one bison died, of pneumonia, before the storm. The remaining 4 bison are also suffering from pneumonia, and urgently need treatment with antibiotics, but the reserve has no financial means left to take care of the animals.
Bison found decapitated
Bad news never comes alone. In September 2016, reserve staff discovered the headless body of Sauron, the 660 kg dominant male and leader of the European bison herd. A shocking discovery that unfortunately was repeated with the finding of a second headless body of another bison in the same week.
A spokesperson for the central government delegate in Valencia confirmed that the animal had been decapitated after its death, but was unable to confirm whether the animals died of a natural cause or have been poisoned before being decapitated by an axe.
A spokesman of the reserve, Rodolfo Navarro told the Spanish press that he believed Sauron had been poisoned before having his head cut off, possibly by trophy hunters. Sauron was the largest and healthiest bison of the herd. Five other bison have been suffering the effects of what authorities believe to be poisoning and three bison went missing.
Two European bison were found decapitated in this reserve in under a week – a poaching mystery that has not yet been resolved, which means the bison are still in danger.
Valdeserrilas Nature Reserve aimed to function as a breeding station for European bison after spending over two years preparing for their arrival. Currently only 5,500 of these animals are left in the world so each individual counts and contributes to the survival of the species.
The current situation is critical: without a functional reserve with the means to tackle the problems the animals will be doomed. It has therefore been decided to move the remaining bison and other animals to another reserve, 700 km away from all the problems that plague Valdeserrillas.
Our first priority is to find the animals that escaped, feed all the animals and provide professional veterinary care.
For the animals it is a critical period and it is a heart-breaking situation and challenge for all the caretakers, volunteers and conservationists involved. However, we know that with your support we will be able to beat the odds stacked against these bison. Your donations will make it possible to not just prevent the animals from dying but also to take them to a safer haven.
You can help by donating through Generosity.com:
Thank you for your support!
In April 2016, 12 European bison born in zoological collections in the UK and Ireland were released into the Valdeserrillas Nature Reserve, Spain. The translocation was sanctioned by the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria’s (EAZA) European bison breeding programme (EEP) and was implemented in partnership with the True Nature Foundation. This, the largest single European bison release in the western part of the species’ historic range, was planned to be the initial phase of a full reintroduction project for the area. As is routinely the case with all participants of the bison EEP, the animals were donated to the receiving location in the interests of conservation.
In autumn 2016 there appeared to be a bizarre poaching event and some of the other bison died, although the circumstances were less than clear. Every effort was made to clarify the situation including involving all of the appropriate regional authorities and providing the necessary veterinary care to the bison.
The situation continued to deteriorate and it was further complicated by snow storms and landslides that negatively impacted upon the reserve’s infrastructure and access to the bison. It was decided that the remaining bison needed to be removed to another, safer location. An excellent and secure site to the south of the Picos de Europa National Park has been identified and the details of the transfer of the bison to this new location are being finalised.