Police investigating attack on small herd at Valdeserrillas reserve in Valencia after staff discover headless body of dominant male
Sam Jones in Madrid
Tuesday 20 September 2016 12.58 BST Last modified on Thursday 22 September 2016 09.01 BST
Spanish police are investigating an attack on a herd of recently reintroduced European bison that left one animal decapitated, three missing and several more apparently poisoned.
Officers were called to the Valdeserrillas reserve in Valencia on Friday after the discovery of the headless body of Sauron, the dominant male of a small herd of bison that had been brought to eastern Spain over the past year.
Staff and police said they believed the herd was poisoned so that their heads could be cut off and sold as trophies.
Carlos Álamo, the manager of the reserve, said he noticed something was wrong when he went to check on the animals last Wednesday. Not only were the bison in a different area to the one they usually occupied, but they were skittish and ran away when he approached. Staff put the behavioural change down to the hot weather, but two days later Álamo found Sauron’s decapitated remains.
“He was called Sauron after the Lord of the Rings character because he was the biggest and the most powerful,” Rodolfo Navarro, a spokesman for the reserve, told the Guardian. “He was a beautiful animal that weighed nearly 800kg [1,764lb]. He was sort of the symbol of the reserve.”