The European bison is one of the two remaining species of Bison, alongside the American bison! Both species suffered from extensive hunting, being close to extinction!
In case of European bison, it actually disappeared from wilderness in the 1920’s, but was since re-introduced from captivity into special reserves (starting with 1951), semi-wild or wild, under protection of the law, in several European countries to reflect its historical distribution/range, but with different degrees of success depending on country. In any case, its overall reintroduction in the wild was declared a success, the species moving from Endangered in 1996 to recently Vulnerable status, as per the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
We went to see this magnificent animal in Poland, Eastern Europe, in one of the remaining wilderness icons, the Białowieża ancient woodland, home of above 800 exemplars (declared the Polish Biosphere Reserve), at the border with Belarus. The reserve seemed well managed, the forest itself is indeed ancient, seeming untouched by civilization, apart from main entrance where you get the chance to go through a gate, there is in fact no border or fence, some lucky people had the chance to see a bison even driving through the nearby villages, as this youtube film shows! We were not that lucky, we did step on the tracks of the bison and we had a great time there, but the only bison we saw were in the nearby enclosed visitor park. However, the overall place and experience was great, and for sure will repeat it (and the ecosystem seems complete, with wolves living in the reserve and feeding on weak bison occasionally in heavy winters, assuring the overall health of the heard, a natural selection process)!!
If you want to see the wild bison, we recommended to check the national park site before visiting, to learn more: Białowieżki National Park !
For more recent pictures and live videos about the European bison re-introduction into the wild and live follow-up, I suggest following these related facebook pages: