Wisentís relationship with people goes back to Prehistory. Cro-Magnon Cave paintings in France show people with Wisent. People hunted Wisent until He disappeared from the great forests of Europe. By the Middle Ages, He was gone from the British Isles, Sweden, Italy, and Iberia. By the 16th Century, the last remaining Herds were found only in the hunting preserve of Bialowiezia Forest of Poland. Once roaming the great temperate forests of Eurasia, Wisent now lives in nature preserves in Poland, Russia, and other parts of Eastern Europe.
The largest animal in Europe, Wisent is still smaller than his Sister, Buffalo (American Bison). Unlike Buffalo, He is not the keystone species of his habitat. Wisent prefers to browse in the forests than graze on the plains. His favorite foods are willow, aspen, ash, mistletoe, and blackberry. He also eats a wide variety of acorns, mushrooms, berries, and tree bark.
During the winter, Wisent joins a group of other Bulls. When the snow melts, Everyone goes their separate ways. When winter comes again, Wisent rejoins his same Friends at their usual place. Since other Game Animals are more plentiful, Grey Wolf does not often prey on the formidable Wisent.
Wisent shares the same natural history as Buffalo. After being hunted so many years, Wisentís numbers dwindled down to a small group of survivors. Poles began protecting Wisent in the 15th Century. Suffering a set back in World War I, Wisent went nearly extinct, and by 1923, only 54 Wisent survived. However, the Poles kept up their efforts to save Him. When World War II broke out, Polish foresters convinced the Russian and German Armies to protect Wisent. Surviving that war, his numbers grew to about 300 by the 1990s. There are now Wisent populations in Great Britain and across Europe living in preserves.
Wisent teaches how to embrace new challenges with courage and resilience. Consider the tenacity of the Poles in keeping Him alive. Even during war and the loss of their country, the Poles cared for Wisent. Now today, Wisent lives in Bialowieza National Park in Poland, where Europeís last remaining primeval forest stands. Answer Wisentís challenge to you with your courage and resilience.
Grotto of Tuc in Audoubert Ariege
Take time to read what Wisent's Sister, Buffalo (American Bison) has to teach.
One difference between Wisent and Buffalo is their size. Buffalo is bigger, with shorter horns. Also, Wisent prefers living in forests; Buffalo prefers plains.
Photo of Wisent in Grotto copyrighted by Visipix.com