Mikhail Alexandrovitch Zablotsky is a remarkable biology scientist, the founder of Russia first Bison Breeding Centre, who made an invaluable contribution to recover endangered animal species. The Prioksko-Terrasny State Nature Biosphere Reserve has been named after him since March 19, 2015.
Mikhail Alexandrovitch Zablotsky was born on November 21, 1912 in Krasnoyarsk in a doctor family. In 1936 he was sent to work in the Institute of Animal Hybridization and Acclimatization in Askania-Nova near Kherson, where at that time the only European bison in the USSR, with a name Bodo, was kept. Ever since then, bisons have become not just the point of his work, but a point of his life.
In 1939 together with his colleagues, Zablotsky developed a plan of events for recovering the European Bison population in the USSR. However, the Second World War stopped his work. Having returned from the war frontier, Mikhail Zablotsky was appointed to the position of the senior research scientist of the Chief Department for Reserves at the Council of People’s Commissars in the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic. He started to work on a very important mission: saving the bison population in the country.
The Prioksko-Terrasny Reserve was chosen as a place for creating the Bison Breeding Centre, as its territory contains parts of mixed forest, as well as the remains of oak forests, which are ideal for the European bison habitat. Also, there was a set transport infrastructure. The building of the breeding centre began in 1947 and was based on the project developed by Mikhail Zablotsky. Already in 1951, the transportation of bisons started in order to resettle the animals. Since the reserve foundation, over 600 calves have been born with 70% of them having been resettled to different places in Russia and abroad. Right now the reserve has completed the first stage of the programme for the European bison conservation: the threat for this rare species extinction is gone.
The movement started by Zablotsky is unique and does not have analogies in the world history of biology. The European Bison is the only wild species which was completely destroyed by human, and conserved only in captivation, in zoos and zoological gardens. But thanks to many years of international aligned work on the species recovery, now it is back in the wild. Today 20-25 bisons live and propagate here, to be later resettled in the places of wild habitat and captive breeding. The reserve experience is implemented worldwide for organizing work on other rare species conservation.
Mikhail Alexandrovitch wrote 102 scientific works on biology, ecology, ethology of the European Bison, problems of breeding and recovery of this ancient animal. According to the head of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment in Russia, Sergey Donskoy, naming the reserve after Mikhail Zablotsky should eternalize this remarkable scientist’s immeasurable contribution in the environment protection.