name = Wisent
status = EN
status_system = iucn2.3
image_width = 250px
phylum = Chordata
genus = "
species = "B. bonasus"
binomial = "Bison bonasus"
binomial_authority = (Linnaeus, 1758)The wisent (pronEng|ˈviːzənt), or European bison ("Bison bonasus"), is a
bison speciesand the heaviest surviving land animal in Europe. A typical wisent is about 2.9–3.0 m (9.5 ft) long and 1.8–2.2 m (5.9–7.4 ft) tall, and weighs 300–920 kg (660–2000 lb). It is typically smaller than the related American bison("Bison bison"), and has shorter hair on the neck, head, and forequarters, but longer tail and horns. Wisent are now forest-dwelling. They have few predators (besides humans) with only scattered reports from the 1800s of wolfand bearpredation. Wisent were first scientifically described by Carolus Linnaeusin 1758. Some later descriptions treat the wisent as conspecificwith the American bison. It is not to be confused with the aurochs, the extinct ancestor of domestic cattle.
In 1996 the
IUCNclassified the wisent as an endangered species. In the past it was commonly killed to produce hidesand drinking horns, especially during the Middle Ages.
About 2000 years ago, wisent lived throughout most of Europe - from Britain in the west, to
Siberiain the east, and from Spainin the south, to Swedenin the north. Wisent lived not only in forests but also roamed grasslands.
Western Europe, wisent became extinctby the 11th century, except in the Ardennes, where they lasted into the 14th century. The last wisent in Transylvaniadied in 1790. In the east, wisent were legally the property of the Polish kings, Lithuanian grand dukes and Russian czars. King Sigismund I of Polandinstituted the death penaltyfor poachinga wisent in the mid-16th century. Despite these measures, and others, the wisent population continued to decline over the following four centuries. The last wild wisent in Poland was killed in 1919 and the last wild wisent in the world was killed by poachers in 1927 in the Western Caucasus. By that year fewer than 50 remained, all in zoos.
In order to help manage this captive population, Dr. Heinzel Heck commenced the first
studbookfor a non-domestic species; first as a card index from 1923 with a full publication in 1932. [cite book|last=Tudge|first=Colin|year=1992|title=Last Animals at the Zoo|publisher=Island Press|location=Washington, D.C.|isbn=1-5596-3158-9]
Wisent were reintroduced successfully into the wild, beginning in 1951. They are found living free-ranging in forest preserves like
Western Caucasusand Prioksko-Terrasny Nature Reservein Russiaand Białowieża Forestin Polandand Belarus.
Free-ranging herds are found in
Poland, Lithuania, Belarus, Ukraine, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Latvia, Kyrgyzstanand since 2006 in MoldovaFact|date=June 2008. There are plans to re-introduce two herds in northern Germany Clarifyme|date=March 2008. Zoos in 30 countries also have quite a few animals. There were 3,000 individuals (as of 2000), all descended from only 12 individuals. Because of their limited genetic pool, they are considered highly vulnerable to diseases like foot and mouth disease.
Wisent have lived as long as 28 years in captivity although in the wild their lifespan is shorter. Productive breeding years are between four and 20 years old in females and only between six and 12 years old in males. Wisent occupy home ranges of as much as 100 square kilometers and some herds are found to prefer meadows and open areas in forests.
Wisent can cross-breed with
American bison. The products of a German interbreeding program were destroyed after World War II. This program was related to the impulse which created the Heck cattle. The cross-bred individuals created at other zoos were eliminated from breed books by the 1950s. A Russian back-breedingprogram resulted in a wild herd of hybrid animals which presently lives in the Caucasian Biosphere Reserve(550 individuals in 1999).
There are also wisent-cattle hybrids. Cattle and wisent can hybridise fairly readily, but the calves cannot be born naturally (birth is not triggered correctly by the first-cross hybrid calf, and they must therefore be born by
Caesarian section). In 1847 a herd of wisent-cattle hybrids named żubrońwas created by Leopold Walicki. The animal was intended to become a durable and cheap alternative to cattle. The experiment was continued by researchers from the Polish Academy of Sciencesuntil the late 1980s. Although the program resulted in a quite successful animal that was both hardy and could be bred in marginal grazing lands, it was eventually discontinued. Currently the only surviving żubroń herd consists of just a few animals in Białowieża Forest, Poland.
Three sub-species have been identified:
Lowland wisent- "Bison bonasus bonasus" (Linnaeus, 1758) – from Białowieża Forest
* Hungarian (Carpathian) wisent ("Bison bonasus hungarorum") - extinct
Caucasus wisent("Bison bonasus caucasicus") - extinct, although one individual from Western Caucasus, a bull named "Kaukasus" was one of the 12 founders of the modern herds
The modern herds are managed as two separate lines - one consisting of only "Bison bonasus bonasus" (all descended from only seven animals) and one consisting of all 12 ancestors including the one "Bison bonasus caucasicus" bull. Only a limited amount of
inbreeding depressionfrom the population bottleneckhas been found, having a small effect on skeletal growth in cows and a small rise in calf mortality. Genetic variability continues to shrink. From five initial bulls, all current wisent bulls have one of only two remaining Y chromosomes.
List of extinct animals of Europe
* Listed as Endangered (EN A2ce, C2a v2.3)
* [http://pl.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C5%BBubr Polish wikipedia page about the wisent (żubr)]
* [http://www.worlddeer.org/bison-in-sauerland The reintroduction of bison into Germany] .
*ARKive - [http://www.arkive.org/species/GES/mammals/Bison_bonasus/ images and movies of the European bison ("Bison bonasus")]
* [http://www.press.jhu.edu/books/walkers_mammals_of_the_world/artiodactyla/artiodactyla.bovidae.bison.html Bison entry] from "
Walker's Mammals of the World"
* [http://www.petermaas.nl/extinct/speciesinfo/caucasianbison.htm The Extinction Website - Caucasian European bison ("Bison bonasus caucasicus")] .
* [http://www.petermaas.nl/extinct/speciesinfo/carpathianbison.htm The Extinction Website - Carpathian European bison ("Bison bonasus hungarorum")] .
* [http://www.ultimateungulate.com/Artiodactyla/Bison_bonasus.html European bison/wisent]
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Look at other dictionaries:
Wisent — Wisent … Deutsch Wörterbuch
Wisent — Männlicher Wisent im Wisentgehege Springe. Systematik Unterordnung: Wiederkäuer (Ruminantia) … Deutsch Wikipedia
Wisent — Sm std. (8. Jh.), mhd. wisent(e), ahd. wisunt, wisant, mndd. wesent, mndl. wesent Stammwort. Aus wg. * wisund m. Wisent , auch in ae. wesend (anord. visundr ist aus dem Niederdeutschen entlehnt). Offenbar aus dem Germanischen entlehnt sind l.… … Etymologisches Wörterbuch der deutschen sprache
Wisent — Wisent: Der westgerm. Tiername mhd. wisent, ahd. wisant, mniederl. wesent, aengl. wesand gehört vielleicht zu der unter ↑ Wiese behandelten idg. Wurzel *u̯eis »‹zer›fließen« (besonders von faulen Pflanzen und stinkenden Flüssigkeiten). Das Tier… … Das Herkunftswörterbuch
Wisent  — Wisent, so v.w. Auerochs … Pierer's Universal-Lexikon
Wisent  — Wisent, s. Wiesent … Pierer's Universal-Lexikon
Wisent — (Bison Sund. Bonasus Wagn.). Gruppe der Gattung Rind (Bos L.). charakterisiert durch kleine runde, nach vorn gerückte und aufwärts gekrümmte Hörner, mehr breite als lange Stirn, lange, wollige Mähne an Stirn, Kopf und Hals, langen Kinnbart und… … Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon
Wisent — (Bison europaeus Ow. [Abb. 1973]), europ. Auerochs, das größte Landtier Europas, jetzt nur noch in Litauen in der Bjelowjesher Heide, wenige Stück auch in den Mezerzitzer Forsten (Schlesien) gehegt, wild im Kaukasus. Amerik. W., s. Bison … Kleines Konversations-Lexikon
Wisent  — Wisent, Fluß, s. Wiesent … Kleines Konversations-Lexikon
wisent — [vē′zənt, wē′zənt] n. [Ger < OHG wisunt, BISON] the European bison (Bison bonasus), now nearly extinct … English World dictionary