Buffalo are extinct

American bison story

The king of the prairie

Although the American prairie bison was once the most numerous and widespread wild ungulate in the world, it has been almost wiped out by humans. Its dominance on the American continent, its rapid disappearance up to its near extinction and its great comeback in today's time are unique - hardly any animal has such a fascinating history.

 

From Asia to America

The bison originally comes from Asia. It is believed that his ancestors migrated to the American continent over a land bridge near the Bering Strait half a million years ago. After the transition disappeared, the Asian and American herds were separated. The bison (still to be found in Poland and Belarus today) and the

Prairie bison.

 

Gods for the Indians

The number of bison at the beginning of the 19th century was unimaginable; millions of animals are assumed. They spread from New Mexico in the south up to northern Alaska. Until the middle of the 19th century, humans had little or no influence on the way of life of the huge bison herds and their surroundings. Only the Indian people have hunted the bison since ancient times. The approximately 200,000 Indians killed around two million buffalo in one year, which was only a third of the annual increase in the herds. The buffalos provided the Indians with everything they needed for their lives: meat, clothing, daily implements such as trowels, shovels, sewing thread and cult objects for the traditional rites of their religion. The bison was and is of immense importance in Indian mythology. Great wisdom is attributed to him. He is deeply revered to this day, because a white bison has led the “red people” and all living beings from the cold darkness into the light and warmth of mother earth. Like no other people in the world, the Indian was dependent on a single animal.

On the verge of extinction

With the arrival of white immigrants from Europe, the situation of local people and animals changed suddenly. Bison was the Indians' first means of payment to the whites for their consumer goods. The king of the prairie was no longer slaughtered out of necessity, but out of greed for profit. Whites and Indians were now killing more animals than they could bring offspring. Thus the downfall of these imposing earth dwellers had begun. With the further advance into the interior of the continent and the increasing territorial claims of the white population, the bison also became a political issue. The Indians fought doggedly against the "white man". He recognized the close connection between the bison and the native Americans. Many politicians now called for the animals to be exterminated, because a country without bison would be a country without disruptive Indians. No army could bring the Indians to their knees as quickly as the buffalo hunters with their rifles. With their fanatical hunt, they deprived an entire people of their livelihood and were even celebrated as heroes for this.

 

The senseless slaughter to solve the Indian problem, the construction of the railroad across America and the competition of the huge longhorn herds of the white farmers brought the once seemingly endless bison herds to the brink of extinction. 60 million animals have been killed in 120 years,

many were not even used. It is estimated that only 50 animals survived the massacre.


The first step in protecting the bison was taken with the establishment of Yellowstons National Park in 1872. There were just about 21 buffalos left in the park area and today's population is largely based on these survivors. Between 1870 and 1920, more and more people began to remember the value of the bison. You have stood up for this animal with more and more strength and patience. It is thanks to them that there are more than 1 million of these expressive animals in the world today. Most of them live on large farms where they can enjoy a piece of prairie. The long wanderings of the thundering herds will, like so many other things on our globe, be a thing of the past forever.