Aside from the end of the Soviet/Polish war there was something else going on in Poland in 1921 that would have a damning legacy on the natural world. Wild European bison became extinct, and would vanish entirely across the continent some six years later.
Thankfully, during this period, around 50 European bison remained in captivity. A breeding programme was undertaken, and some 30 years after wild bison disappeared from Poland they were reintroduced in the 1950s.
Although the reintroduction, or ‘rewilding’, of animals into their natural habitat is still seen as something of a novel concept, back in the 50s it must have been really forward thinking. It's thanks to these early pioneers that the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Bialowieza Forest now has over 800 wild European bison roaming free amongst one of the continent's largest and last remaining old growth environments.
Zoos and wildlife parks across the continent, including Britain, Switzerland, Germany, Belgium and France, have undertaken a coordinated rewildling project to reintroduce European bison into Romania, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Russia and Poland, with the Southern Carpathians and Bialowieza Forest providing ideal habitats for healthy herds. This sort of combined effort is like a ray of sunshine for those wildlife lovers keen on seeing animals in their natural element and as more organisations aim to reintroduce bison to the wild rather than keep them as exhibits it begs the question: