Art & Our World | Endangered Species Series
This post is the first of many in a new series that will showcase endangered and threatened species around the world through artwork and education.
Wildlife and the natural world play a very important role in my work as an artist - they are my inspiration and now part of my motivation. I want my art to be more than pretty pictures to hang on others' walls - I want it to have a greater purpose. I feel a responsibility to try and protect the world that inspires me every single day. This series will be a journey of learning for myself and all those who choose to educate themselves further about the many species in our world that are losing their homes, their livelihood, and being killed for various reasons (among many other things). Please join me each week to celebrate the beautiful creatures of our world and learn more about their story and place in history. Perhaps, after several weeks of exploring, learning, and appreciating the animals of our world, we can, together, take a bigger step to making a difference.
American Bison (Bison bison)
The symbolic animal of the American Great Plains.
The American Bison is no longer listed as endangered, but today are considered "ecologically extinct" throughout most of their historic range.
Height: 5 - 6.5 ft at shoulder
Weight: over a ton
Sharp horns up to 2 ft long
Speed: up to 40 mph
Average Life Span: 12-20 years in the wild
Food: grass, herbs, shrubs, and twigs
Females (cows) live in small family groups, where males (bulls) live solitarily or in small groups - the two only come together to mate during the summer.
The American Bison once covered the Great Plains and much of North America. They were essential in shaping the ecology of the Great Plains and were critically important to the Native American societies of the Plains. During the 19th century, the American Bison population was reduced to only a few hundred from the 50 million that once roamed the land. Settlers killed the bison for "food, sport, and to deprive the Native peoples of their most important natural asset."
Today, the American Bison population has rebounded somewhat. The largest population of wild American Bison (4,000) live in Yellowstone National Park. About 200,000 live on preserves and ranches where they are raised for meat. These populations are not truly wild because they are semi-domesticated due to cross-breeding with cattle.
Fun Fact: Trails carved by bison and other animals during their seasonal migration formed some of the earliest traceable paths into the American wilderness and Native Americans, explorers, and pioneers followed them.
BISON VS BUFFALO
The American Bison is often mistakenly called 'buffalo'. "The American Bison lives only in North America, while the two main species of buffalo reside in Africa and Asia." Both species belong to the Bovidae family, which includes 100+ species of hoofed animals (antelopes, gazelles, cattle, sheep, etc).
Sources: National Geographic, Defenders of Wildlife, and Live Science.