Brutus – the Wanderer

This is the story about Brutus the musk ox who left his herd to find a girl.

When I came to work one day in late August I heard the rumors that a musk ox has been spotted near by. That is rather unusual as the population of musk ox in Sweden counts exactly TEN individuals. The species is not part of the swedish natural fauna. To be honest I did not know a lot about the musk ox except that there is a little population in Sweden which lives a few hundred kilometers from where I live (which means „around the corner“ in swedish countryside measurements).

After Brutus and my ways crossed I got curious and tried to find some information about the history of musk ox in Sweden and I found in my opinion very interesting things which I want to share with you especially because most articles are written in swedish and information in English is rare. I am neither a biologist nor a veterinarian and this story is not in any way scientifically certified but I did my best to find reliable sources.

The species was introduced from Green Land to Norway in 1931 but was hunted to extinction during the Second World War. The attempt to reintroduce the musk ox in 1947 was more successful and lasting. The Norwegian population counts as many individuals as 300 right now.

In 1971 there was a military excercise and 5 individuals crossed the border to Sweden where they found a new home at a place called Rogen in the Swedish highlands. Since that a little herd of ox is living in Sweden. The Population reached as many as 34 animals in 1980 and is since then decreasing. The herd is struggling with the lack of genetic variation which makes reproduction hard for them.

Brutus was born in 2011 in Sweden and as part of the only swedish musk ox herd. In 2016 it was reported that Brutus was forced to leave the herd during rutting season by alfa male Pitoraq Jr. He started to wander, trying to find a partner, a soulmate, someone to built a new herd with. But there simply are no other musk ox in Sweden. 5 other males and 3 females. (Yes it was only 9 individuals in 2016) The others are all part of the only existing herd which Brutus also used to be part of…. So he returned to his pack… and was accepted as rutting season was over.

But in 2018 Brutus had enough. He left his herd for good, determined to find love. He became a nomad, a wanderer, a searcher, against all odds, ignoring the facts that there is not a single single musk ox lady in Sweden… Brutus is straying around for two years now, revealing himself occasionally in small villages. It was reported that he fought a carpet hanging on a clothes line in someone’s garden a few days ago. Is Brutus turning into some kind of musk ox DonQuixote? Another report says that Brutus might get attracted to common cows, because they smell delicious in his opinion… So what is this all about? Is Brutus desperate? A traveller? An outcast? A tragic figure?

No…

I have met him and I can tell you: Brutus is a hopeful romantic going his own way. And I think that this is just beautiful.

Go you own way, Brutus!

23 thoughts on “Brutus – the Wanderer

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  1. ❤ so eine schöne, traurige geschichte- danke für's recherchieren, ich habe tatsächlich gestern gegoogelt und nix gefunden.
    die fotos sind auch superschön. warst du sehr nah an ihm dran?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. They have tried. But it’s not that easy. As the nearest herd in Norway has the same genes as Brutus and it is not easy to lead Brutus in the right direction. There was a discussion about moving Brutus but this means he has to anesthetize him. And that is very risky.

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  2. Musk ox live in Alaska. Their inner wool is called Qiviut and it is spun into the most wonderfully soft and warm yarn. When I initially saw your post I thought you were going to write about Crocheting with Qiviut Yarn! I hope you are able to at least feel the yarn!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This is definitely sad, Martin .. The poor creature, doomed to live out his life not only without a mate but without another of his kind.
    My siblings and I had a book called “Wild Life in the Ice and Snow” when I was a child; and one of the stories was about muskoxen. I’ve been fascinated about them ever since, not realizing that they had much the same fate as the American bison. I wish the muskoxen’s reintroduction program/s had been as successful as that of the bison !

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  4. A very touching story. Muskox are found in northern Alaska and Canada. Perhaps some organization such as the World Wildlife Fund could take up the cause and help. Good luck.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Hi Martin, I visited a musk ox farm in Alaska and bought some musk ox yarn.  The comb them and gather the hair that sheds.  It is THE softest yarn I have ever used!!  It works up beautifully too.  But it is also very expensive.  Just a little tidbit of information from a fellow crocheted.  Candace Wolf.  New Mexico, USA.nt from Yahoo Mail for iPad

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thanks for this story which I really enjoyed reading, especially after I met Brutus twice a few days ago, without having heard from him before. Good luck, Brutus!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Thanks for the link and update. I’m sitting here smiling and happy inside, Sounds like Brutus has met another caring friend. May the Wild Life continue ;D

    Liked by 1 person

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