Nazi super-cows could be brought back by scientists after going extinct in 17th century

Nazis idolised the auroch and ecologists believe its extinction has impacted Europe's ecology

Jon Sharman
Tuesday 10 January 2017 11:21
An aurochs and her calf
An aurochs and her calf

Scientists say they are well on the way to resurrecting an ancient species of super-cow revered by the Nazis after it went extinct nearly 400 years ago.

The auroch roamed the grassy plains of Europe for 250,000 years until it died out in Poland in 1627, and Adolf Hitler's followers tried to breed a similar beast as part of their Aryan mythology.

Now conservationists who believe the bovine ancestor was key to preserving the continent's ecosystem have said they are 'rewilding' the fourth generation of their experimental auroch replacement as part of the Tauros Project.

Founder and ecologist Ronald Goderie told CNN: "We thought we needed a grazer that is fully self-sufficient in case of big predators...and could do the job of grazing big wild areas. We reasoned that this animal would have to resemble an auroch.

"We see progress not only in looks and behavior but also in de-domestication of the animals."

In conjunction with the Rewilding Europe group, the Tauros, bred from a number of current species with auroch ancestry, have been released into areas of Spain, Portugal, Croatia, the Czech Republic and Romania, where they have had to contend with wolves and other predators.

Mr Goderie believes that by 2025, the seventh generation of neo-aurochs will be as close as possible to the originals.

In 2015 a British farmer was forced to kill off half his herd of auroch-derived Heck cattle because they kept trying to kill him.

The aggressive breed was produced by German zoologists and brothers Heinz and Lutz Heck, whom the Nazi party commissioned to produce a breed of cattle based on the aurochs, a taller and leaner animal than today's cows.

Derek Gow said: "What the Germans did with their breeding programme was create something truly primeval.

"When the Germans were selecting them to create this animal they used Spanish fighting cattle to give them the shape and ferocity they wanted."

He turned the rogue cows into “very tasty” sausages that tasted a bit like venison, he said.

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