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?
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.