The first-ever bison rangers in the UK are set to begin in post in Spring this year in Blean Wood near Canterbury.
The position has been posted by Kent Wildlife Trust and The Wildwood Trust as part of their Wilder Blean project, thanks to funds raised by players of People’s Postcode Lottery.
The role will form an important part of the Wilder Blean project team, with the specific purpose of looking after and managing a small herd of wild European bison within approximately 200ha of the woodland.
The groundbreaking conservation initiative aims to restore the ecosystem of the area’s renowned ancient woodlands through nature-based solutions.
The European bison is the continent’s largest land mammal and adult males can weigh as much as a tonne. The species is known as an “ecosystem engineer” because of their ability to fell trees by rubbing up against them and eating the bark, creating space for a wide range of other species to thrive. No other species can perform this job in quite the same way.
The bison must be kept in as wild a state as possible for them to display their natural behaviour and have the greatest positive impact on the environment and so careful management will be essential for this role.
The rangers will be responsible for compliance licenses, health checks, safety, infrastructure management, risk management and planning, and monitoring visitor interactions with the bison.
Bison releases have already proved very successful in European countries including Poland, Romania and the Netherlands, not only in restoring habitats but also giving people a truly wild experience.
Training will be provided as part of this role, which will involve spending time with ARK Natuur Ontwikkeling at several of their sites in the Netherlands. This will provide the necessary specific skills and understanding to manage free ranging bison in the Wilder Blean project which are currently unavailable in the UK.
The project has been made possible thanks to funding of £1,125,000 raised by players of People’s Postcode Lottery. The Dream Fund, which distributes funds via the Postcode Dream Trust, was created to give charities and good causes the opportunity to deliver their dream project over a two-year period.
Stan Smith, Wilder Landscapes Manager at Kent Wildlife Trust said: “This is a truly unique role for the UK, it’s a chance to manage a free roaming herd of Europe’s largest living land mammal and to develop an entirely new skill set which will enable the success of this and future wilding projects.
“This is a first step to European bison becoming more frequent tools for the restoration of ecosystems in Britain and for two individuals to get to know these animals like no other. Whilst we are not expecting applicants to have significant experience with bison, this will be a demanding role requiring excellent ecological knowledge, deep understanding of animal behaviour and a passion to tell others about these incredible animals.”
Mark Habben, Head of Living Collections at Wildwood Trust said: “We are excited to be able to offer the job of a lifetime to two people who are passionate about conservation and nature. In addition to working with the bison in the Blean woods, the successful individuals will work closely with the resident bison and the rest of the team at Wildwood Trust where they will benefit from the experience of the resident bison experts.
“This is a unique job and a first of its kind to be advertised in Britain. European Bison are a fascinating, important species in the UK and we look forward to the positive impact that they will have when inhabiting the Blean woods.”
To apply for the role visit: kentwildlifetrust.org.uk/jobs
Learn more about Wilder Blean here: kentwildlifetrust.org.uk/wilderblean