I’ve read in a couple of places recently some knocking of what’s described as a ‘safari park vision’ of visible big herbivores and their predators – a vision said to be espoused by Rewilding Europe. I’m not sure what the critics are saying, but I assume their contention is that, within Europe, large herbivore and predator populations will always remain at such low densities and be so skittish as to be basically invisible.
Predators, yep, but large herbivores?
Whilst I agree (and hope) that we’re never going to have Serengeti-style mass herds or migrations of megafauna across treeless plains in Europe, I don’t think we can say that we’ll never have impressive herds of European bison, visible in open habitats. My guess is that as numbers of bison build up at various re-introduction sites, they’ll become ever-more obvious, and, provided we avoid spooking them too much, they’ll be pretty relaxed having onlookers.
How about aurochs, or their anticipated ecological stand-ins, the Tauros? My guess is that the real aurochs formed herds too – I’ll go as far as to say obviously they did. And they’re more grazers than browsers so probably favoured more open regions. So, if the Tauros created by back-breeding really do exhibit the ecological traits of aurochs, I guess they’ll form herds that’ll venture into open habitats. Again, as long as they’re not hounded too much, they’ll probably be pretty visible.
Wild horses (or whatever ecological surrogates we come up with)? Their herding behaviour varies depending on the habitat, but they’re another grazer and will form visible herds in more open habitats.
Groups of cervids are quite happy to venture out from the woodland edge to nipple at low shrubby vegetation and will do so during the day in quieter areas.
If you put all this lot together, in protected areas with a mix of open and more wooded habitats, free from harassment by people, then surely they’ll remain pretty visible to discrete onlookers?