Friday, January 22, 2010

Buffalo a la Geneva

North American Bison roam the farmland north of the airport : Colovrex, CH

When I first arrived in Switzerland and France, I mentioned to some friends that I'd seen some North American buffalo not far from the airport. A well-meaning and often knowledgeable friend back in the States informed me that more than likely what I had seen were not buffalo from America, but wisents--their European cousins. Having seen buffalo in the States, I was pretty sure these were the same, but didn't contradict because, well, why the hell would there be American buffalo in Switzerland?!

A home where the buffalo roam... Across the street in Switzerland. : Colovrex, CH

Turns out, I was actually right for once. These are, indeed, buffalo from North America. They were brought here by a guy named Laurent Girardet in 1990 and the herd has grown to 150 animals spread out across several fields in Colovrex northeast of Geneva International Airport. How long they'll remain an attraction on the road from Ferney-Voltaire to Geneva is a question. According to this article, written a year ago, not long. (And yet, they remain. Yeah!) For the time being, at least, they're a popular, though unusual, attraction to be found across the street in Swtizerland!

Photo copyright: Janet M Kincaid, 1/10


Eeyore said...

Some guy here in Columbiana, Alabama has a small herd of buffalo on his place. Occasionally they are out in the section of pasture near the highway and you can see them grazing away. I don't know if he thinks of them as pets or future food.

Leif Hagen said...

Very surprising indeed! Who would have thunk?! Bon weekend!

janeannechovy said...

Awesome. Are they raising them for meat? Because bison = delicious.

NG said...

I always feel giddy and very "old world" when I see buffalo anywhere. I guess I still have the sense that they are almost extinct, though I suppose that is no longer the case. It's still a huge treat for me to see them.

Cele said...

I remember the first time I saw Buffalo in Yellowstone, I was amazed at it's sheer mass. A man in Florence use to have one in his backyard. I never knew why, maybe it was just a pet, I think it died of old age and bordom.

Carolyn said...

The buffalo herd in Golden Gate Park is shrinking due to age. Maybe they can buy extra Swiss-French buffalo?!

Rob said...

Interesting, you'd think in this day of hoof and mouth disease from differing breeds grazing the land, they wouldn't allow this. Glad you were right. It is fun to be right once in a while- I'm rarely right. ;)

Janet M Kincaid said...

Larry: I grew up in the US West, so you'd think at some point I would have seen buffalo. But, no. My first buffalo sighting ever was a herd of bison on a farm along the interstate going to Madison, Wisconsin. Go figure! Next time I'm in Alabama, I'll be sure to check out the herd you mentioned.

Leif: Seriously, right? The first time I saw them, I almost strained my neck whipping around to see if I was seeing things correctly!

JA: There is a bit of bison meat consumed around here, but I'm not 100% sure that's the purpose of this herd. Still gathering information. Will report back as soon as possible.

NG: Well, given that non-native "settlers" nearly annhilated them in the 1800s and early 1900s on the US Plains, I suppose having an old world feeling makes sense. They are a rather "bygone era" sort of animal, so it's kind of cool to see them, no matter where they are.

Cele: Their mass is completely mind-boggling and amazing. But why someone would pen one up in a backyard as a pet is beyond me... Who wants to feed and clean up after one of these things?!

Carolyn: And I'm sure they won't replace the herd in GGP, because the animal rights' activists will protest. (Not that I disagree with them entirely. Still...) Perhaps the Swiss-French buffalo could do an exchange program for a year in SF! :-D

Rob: It is rather bizarre, but I've only ever seen the buffalo in these fields. No cows or sheep or goats. (Those are in other fields wandering all over rural and suburban Switzerland!) And yes, it's nice to be right once in a while. Rare, but pleasant. :-)