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After the Hunt

Dicembre 2008
Prima dell’arrivo dei colonizzatori europei vivevano a milioni nelle praterie del Nordamerica. Poi iniziò una caccia spietata, e oggi i bisonti sono una specie protetta. I pochi esemplari rimasti sono ospitati nei grandi parchi dell’ovest, come il Custer State Park.

di Julian Earwaker

File audio:

Bison at Custer State Park
Bison at Custer State Park
Kathy Funk
Kathy Funk

Speaker: Chuck Rolando (Standard American accent)

When the first white men arrived on the Great Plains of North America they referred to a “blackening” of the landscape. It wasn’t rocks or trees that painted the scenery black, however, but animals: vast herds of North American bison (known as “buffalo” in the US). It is estimated that, back in the seventeenth century, as many as 60 million of these distinctive creatures roamed the plains.
Today, just 700,000 bison survive across the whole of the USA and Canada – and these mostly in national and state parks, or on private ranches where they are raised for meat. Only about 20,000 bison roam free, as they have for centuries, in search of grass, water and places to breed, explains Kathy Funk, Jeep Tour Manager for Custer State Park Resorts:

Kathy Funk (Standard American accent):

Buffalo are by nature wanderers, they will go from one range land area to another to another. They usually will not eat that range land down to almost nothing before they move on. Cattle will have that tendency to eat ranges, really right down to the nothing. But buffalo are by nature wanderers, they wandered the plains from Canada all the way to Texas and from Colorado probably all the way over to Ohio and Pennsylvania. So they wandered through a lot of territory, and they wander throughout the park and wherever they want to get to.


Custer State Park was established in 1919 using a handful of the remaining wild bison. Today, the park’s 300 square kilometres are home to a herd of around 1500 of these iconic animals.
When white settlers first appeared westwards across the plains, they viewed bison as a natural resource – but also as an obstacle to cattle ranching and agriculture. Native American tribes were also seen as a barrier to the expansion of the US frontier. The survival of both the bison and the Indians therefore became linked in the battle for the American West.
Encouraged by the US government and military, hunters killed thousands upon thousands of bison, pushing them to the very edge of extinction – and with them the Indian tribes into starvation and onto government reserves:

Kathy Funk:

They were pretty much taken care of by the white man, usually. In the 1860s, 1870s they would drive... bring trains across the countryside and they would shoot the buffalo. And the buffalo would just basically stand there out on the prairie and just let them shoot at them. They weren’t used to that sort of thing, you know, the Indians killed only what they needed, but the white man’s (sic) basically slaughtered them. They took them for their horns, the hides, or they just left them, they just killed them for sport.

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blackening of the land-scape - oscuramento del paesaggio.

herds - mandrie.

roamed the plains - abitavano le pianure.

raised for meat - allevati per la carne.

to breed - accoppiarsi.

are by nature wanderers - sono nomadi per natura.

from one range land area to another - da una zona di pascolo a un’altra.

they usually... before they move on - di solito (i bisonti) non esaurisco-no tutto il pascolo prima di spostarsi.

cattle - i bovini.

a handful - un piccolo numero (lett. una manciata).

when white settlers... westward - quando i coloni bianchi si diffusero a ovest.

an obstacle to cattle ranching - un ostacolo all’allevamento del bestiame.

linked - collegato.

starvation - fame.

they were... taken care of by the white man - sono stati sistemati (cioè sterminati) dall’uomo bianco.

shoot - sparare.

prairie - prateria.

slaughtered them - li massacrò.

horns - corna.

hides - pelle.