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North American Buffalo / Bison
Latin Bison Bison
American Buffalo - Bison bison
When the first European set foot on American soil about 60 million buffaloes lived in North America.
Buffaloes didn't stay long on one place, they grazed and moved on, returning many months later. Overgrazing was never a problem at this time.
A bison is the biggest mammal in the northern hemisphere. It is impressive to see its shaggy, long, dark brown winter coat. During summer buffaloes coat is lighter weight, lighter brown. Male bison are a little bit larger than the female. Bison bulls can reach up to 6 feet 6 inches (2 m) tall, 11 feet 6 inches = 4 m long, and weigh up to 2,200 pounds = 1,000 kg. The biggest specimens on record have weighed as much as 2,500 pounds = 1,130 kg.
A bison's head and forequarter is massive. Both sexes have short, curved horns, up to 2 feet long, often used in fighting for status within the herd and as a defense against former predators.
For the native Americans the buffalo was very important. Food, skin, bones, horns, close to everything was used.
Sadly, US federal government ordered mass slaughter of bison to weaken the North American Indian population. Bison was their main food source. Many Americans wanted to push Native Americans into the reservations, so they could take the land for free. Without the bison, native people were forced either to leave the land or starve to death.
Due to commercial hunting and slaughter in the 19th century, the bison nearly went extinct and is today restricted to a few national parks and other reserves. By 1884, the American bison was close to extinction.
The only continuously wild bison herd in the United States resides within Yellowstone National Park which was founded 1872 just in time to give the last wild buffaloes a home. But illegal hunting in the park brought the bison population down to 23 heads in 1902.
Old photos put together to show the movement of a bison.
Bison are herbivores, what means they eat plants, grasses and sedges.
Usually the graze two hours, rest, cud chew. After that buffaloes move to a new location to graze again.
Bison mating occurs in August and September. It takes about 285 days before a new buffalo is born. When bison cows are three years and older, they are mature and can reproduce. Normal life span of a bison is about 16 years in the wild.
Because of more humans, more houses, more roads, more noise, wild animals are often difficult to watch. You need patience, however, the rewards are well worth it. Few other activities can bring such a sense of wonder, satisfaction, connecting with Nature, as well as peaceful solitude -- in todayís busy world.
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The B*S*B Nature reserve can also be called natural reserve = nature preserve = natural preserve, located in the southern Texas Hill Country.
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