The Żubr

The Żubr (bison) is the biggest land mammal in Europe. Żubrs have been extinct in many parts of Europe for centuries, the last ones living in the wild were killed in the 1920s. After the second world war, some Żubrs living in zoos were released into the wild to create a new population. All Żubrs that live in the wild today are the descendants of only 12 individuals that were released from zoos, which is quite threatening to their genetic health. The biggest population of about 800 individuals lives in Białowieża Forest, where we stayed for several days. Male Żubrs mostly live alone, female Żubrs in groups, and only in the mating season in autumn one male joins each group of females. On the Polish side of the Forest, the Żubrs are not hunted, so they are not very scared of humans, and the best time to see them is at sunrise. Some of us got up at 4 in the morning to see one, and after 20 km we met one!

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