Buffalo dreams of Hollywood stardom shattered

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The Independent US

Jured by the promise of a career in Hollywood, they ended up being rejected. Their scenes were left on the cutting-room floor and they were dumped on an offshore island.

Jured by the promise of a career in Hollywood, they ended up being rejected. Their scenes were left on the cutting-room floor and they were dumped on an offshore island.

Now, 80 years later, the descendants of 14 bison, which were shipped in as extras for the 1925 silent epic The Vanishing American, are being returned to the Great Plains to roam among a tribe of Native Americans.

The Rosebud Lakota reservation in South Dakota was expecting the arrival last night of 98 bison who had made a 30-hour journey from Catalina Island, off Los Angeles in southern California.

"The idea was to get these buffalo, that were taken from the plains some 80 years ago, back to their homeland," said Maurice Lyons, chairman of the Morongo Band of Mission Indians, which has paid the $75,000 (£40,000) cost of shipping the animals, using wealth from the tribe's casino chain. "To the Native Americans back there, these animals are sacred. They'll be going home to their relatives."

After their brush with celluloid stardom (their scenes were apparently scrapped), the animals ended up on Catalina, a 75 square mile island around 22 miles south-west of Hollywood where, despite somewhat harsh conditions, they thrived.

At one point the herd reached 500 individuals which conservationists said was too big. There was concern about the effect such a large herd would have on the island's native plants. Previously, numbers were thinned to 150 by auctioning them off, usually for slaughter. Then officials hit upon a different plan. Send them home.

As well as solving the population problem on Catalina, the shipment will help to counter the thinning numbers of bison on the Great Plains.

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