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
Comments
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.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged in