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Wild and woolly: Canadian bison thrive in Siberia

Bison are making a comeback thousands of years after they disappeared from eastern Russia. Bison breeders in Siberia are hoping the return of the huge woolly mammals to the region will help boost eco-tourism.

Two thousand years ago the bison left the region that is now the Republic of Yakutia in Siberia, but now they’re back – and thriving.

The bison had become extinct in Russia, but thanks to Canada that they're home again.

Thirty Canadian-born woolly bovines have now spent three winters at the Lensky Stolby Nature Park, 100 kilometres south of Yakutsk. Local herdsmen say they've settled in nicely.

“They're good at enduring the cold and they've adapted extremely well. They look happy here and I've become really attached to these beautiful animals,” bison herder Sergey says.

A good indication of how well these bison are adapting to their new environment is their ability to reproduce. Already six babies have been born into this herd – a sure sign that they're thriving in their former homeland.

Bison were taken from Canada as part of the world's first bison resettlement programme. Canada wants to conserve species at risk. So this project is a chance to secure the global survival of the Red Book bison. The Red Book is a list of endangered species.

Meanwhile, wildlife conservationists say the bison will soon be the region's star attraction.

“We're aiming to create an eco-tourist park here. There's been so much interest in the bison, so eventually we want to re-introduce all animals that once roamed this land,” says Yakob Sivtsev from the Conservation Ministry.

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