The first bison calf to be born in the wild in the UK in thousands of years has reached her first birthday.
She was born unexpectedly to one of two young females introduced to a rewilding project at Blean near Canterbury, Kent.
She is now a member of a five-strong herd being used to naturally manage woodland in the area.
The final part of the project will see crossing points created to allow the herd to access an area four times larger than its current range.
At a year old the year-old calf’s horns have grown and her light brown coat has been replaced by the dark, coarse coat of an adult.
Her surprise birth was discovered in September 2022 by head bison ranger Tom Gibbs, shortly after two young females had arrived from Ireland along with an older matriarch from Scotland.
Mr Gibbs said: “All of the herd were together apart from female two so I decided to track her into the woodland.
“After a while, I found her in a quiet corner of the forest, and she looked calm and relaxed. I walked round a little further and I saw a little head pop out from behind female two.”
In December 2022 a male arrived from Germany to complete the herd.
Along with Exmoor ponies, Iron Age pigs and Longhorn cattle, the bisons’ grazing has helped clear overgrowth, allowing a wider variety of native plants to grow and creating paths for other wildlife.
A partnership between the Kent Wildlife Trust, Wildwood Trust, the Woodland Trust and the RSPB, the Wilder Blean Initiative has been awarded £100,000 from the charity Rewilding Britain.
The bison currently live in an area of 123 acres (50 hectares), but the Kent Wildlife Trust wants to install bridges to allow the herd to range across 494 acres (200 hectares).
Wilder Blean Landscapes development manager Helen Pitman said: “We are bringing together knowledge, expertise and ideas, to build a vision of a restored, climate-resilient landscape, driven by natural processes, with missing species returned.”