European Rewilding Network
061

Auerrind Project

Creating a modern-day aurochs equivalent

The auroch may be long gone, yet all is not lost. Today, strands of its DNA remain alive, distributed among a number of ancient cattle breeds that still exist across Europe. Image: Staffan Widstrand / Rewilding Europe
Staffan Widstrand / Rewilding Europe
A breeding bull of the Auerrind project.
Auerrind project
The Auerrind project, in cooperation with the Taurus Foundation, the Tauros Programme and other partners, will share research findings on the genetics and morphology of aurochs.
Staffan Widstrand / Rewilding Europe
At the end of August 2018 a group of eight Tauros cattle was transported between Stichting Taurus (the Taurus Foundation) in the Netherlands and the Auerrind Project in Germany.
Auerrind project
Rising levels of land abandonment in Europe mean large areas are becoming overgrown with shrubs and trees, leading to a decline in biodiversity. Rewilding Europe and its partners are working together to tackle this problem by reintroducing wild herbivores.
Jeroen Helmer / ARK Nature

This rewilding project is focusing on natural grazing, back-breeding and scientific research on aurochs (an extinct species of large wild cattle). The ultimate goal of the back-breeding part of the project is to create a modern-day aurochs equivalent as closely as possible, from both a genetic and phenotypic perspective.

Based at the Lauresham Laboratory for Experimental Archeology in the Bergstraße district of southwest Germany, as well as the nearby Association for the Reintroduction of Large Herbivores, UNESCO Global Geopark Bergstraße-Odenwald and Hohmeyer landscape conservation farm, the Auerrind project also works to raising awareness about the need for large herbivores in European nature.

Since it began in 2013 the Auerrind project has established four breeding herds in Lorsch, Einhausen, Bielefeld and Schwarzach, with bovine grazing on more than 50 hectares of land. An extensive system of meadows is currently being developed that will allow year-round grazing. The animals currently involved in the project are roaming and grazing on river meadow habitat, which includes old sand dunes covered in pine forest. In addition to the four breeding herds, the Auerrind project has also established an auroch research database which includes data from the radiocarbon dating of bone material from the Upper Rhine Valley, and the DNA testing of auroch remains developed in cooperation with the University of Kiel.

Project: Auerrind Project
Region: Lorsch
Type of protection: UNESCO World Heritage Area
Habitat types: River-meadow habitat including old sand dune with pine forest
Aim and vision: The Auerrind Project aims to create awareness about the need of large herbivores like the extinct Aurochs for our biodiversity and to function as a scientific platform and research institution on the Aurochs and for breeding back an aurochs-like cattle breed. In cooperation with the Taurus Foundations, Rewilding Europe and the Tauros Programme the project aims to share research results in the field of Aurochs-morphology, aDNA and DNA-analysis in accordance with the research-partners of the Tauros-Programme (e.g. Wageningen University). Furthermore, the project works on the exchange of suitable crosses between the Auerrind Project and the Tauros Programme (Rewilding Europe) in the process of selective breeding and for the usage in selected rewilding areas in Europe.
Aurrind project vision is to broaden the knowledge about the extinct aurochs and in cooperation with partners create a functional wild animal that resembles the extinct auroch. The end goal is to back breed this large grazer as natural grazing as a key natural process, keeps parts of the land free from forests, providing open habitats that support a wide range of plants and animals.
Uniqueness of the project: The Lauresham Laboratory for Experimental Archaeology as initiator of the Auerrind project gives the extraordinary chance to give answers on important historical, ecological archaeological questions of the 21st century.
Other activities: Community involved, Eco tourism, Education, Recreational activities, Research
Results you aim to accomplish in 10 years from now on: Looking in the future, let's say the year 2030, our expectations are that we have broadened our knowledge about the extinct aurochs but also managed to create a functional wild animal, by back-breeding the closest relatives of the original aurochs. Furthermore, we hope to foster awareness about the importance of rewilding, returning natural processes such as natural grazing and the need for large herbivores in our nature.
Results so far: Four breeding herds established in Lorsch/Bensheim, Einhausen, Bielefeld and Schwarzach, grazing on more than 50ha of grounds in total. A large system of meadows allowing year-round grazing is currently in the development. The project established the aurochs research database which includes radiocarbon-dating, the analysis of data on the existing Aurochs bone material from the Upper Rhine Valley, aDNA-testing on Aurochs material in cooperation with the University of Kiel and other. Research done by the Tauros programme will also be included into the database.
The project hosted and organized a conference on natural grazing and back breeding, as the first step of creating a network where similar projects can share know-how, data and experience. Furthermore, extensive work has been done on education and boosting nature-based tourism. In April 2018 the project signed the cooperation agreement with Taurus Foundation from the Netherlands.
Inspirational value: Teamwork, determination and commitment to reaching the common goal of making our world a little bit wilder.
Experience you would like to share: We would very much like to share our research results in order to help other similar projects and the Tauros Programme by Rewilding Europe and Taurus Foundation.
Experience you would like to gain: Management and acquisition of the large-scale natural grazing areas.
Map
Country
Germany
Start year
2013
Size (ha)
64
Area type
Forest-grassland mosaic
Natural process
Natural grazing
Flagship species
Feral cattle
Auerrind Project
Auerrind Project
Auerrind Project
Auerrind Project
The auroch may be long gone, yet all is not lost. Today, strands of its DNA remain alive, distributed among a number of ancient cattle breeds that still exist across Europe. Image: Staffan Widstrand / Rewilding Europe
Staffan Widstrand / Rewilding Europe
A breeding bull of the Auerrind project.
Auerrind project
The Auerrind project, in cooperation with the Taurus Foundation, the Tauros Programme and other partners, will share research findings on the genetics and morphology of aurochs.
Staffan Widstrand / Rewilding Europe
At the end of August 2018 a group of eight Tauros cattle was transported between Stichting Taurus (the Taurus Foundation) in the Netherlands and the Auerrind Project in Germany.
Auerrind project
Rising levels of land abandonment in Europe mean large areas are becoming overgrown with shrubs and trees, leading to a decline in biodiversity. Rewilding Europe and its partners are working together to tackle this problem by reintroducing wild herbivores.
Jeroen Helmer / ARK Nature

This rewilding project is focusing on natural grazing, back-breeding and scientific research on aurochs (an extinct species of large wild cattle). The ultimate goal of the back-breeding part of the project is to create a modern-day aurochs equivalent as closely as possible, from both a genetic and phenotypic perspective.

Based at the Lauresham Laboratory for Experimental Archeology in the Bergstraße district of southwest Germany, as well as the nearby Association for the Reintroduction of Large Herbivores, UNESCO Global Geopark Bergstraße-Odenwald and Hohmeyer landscape conservation farm, the Auerrind project also works to raising awareness about the need for large herbivores in European nature.

Since it began in 2013 the Auerrind project has established four breeding herds in Lorsch, Einhausen, Bielefeld and Schwarzach, with bovine grazing on more than 50 hectares of land. An extensive system of meadows is currently being developed that will allow year-round grazing. The animals currently involved in the project are roaming and grazing on river meadow habitat, which includes old sand dunes covered in pine forest. In addition to the four breeding herds, the Auerrind project has also established an auroch research database which includes data from the radiocarbon dating of bone material from the Upper Rhine Valley, and the DNA testing of auroch remains developed in cooperation with the University of Kiel.

Map
Country
Germany
Start year
2013
Size (ha)
64
Area type
Forest-grassland mosaic
Natural process
Natural grazing
Flagship species
Feral cattle
Specification
Project: Auerrind Project
Region: Lorsch
Type of protection: UNESCO World Heritage Area
Habitat types: River-meadow habitat including old sand dune with pine forest
Description
Aim and vision: The Auerrind Project aims to create awareness about the need of large herbivores like the extinct Aurochs for our biodiversity and to function as a scientific platform and research institution on the Aurochs and for breeding back an aurochs-like cattle breed. In cooperation with the Taurus Foundations, Rewilding Europe and the Tauros Programme the project aims to share research results in the field of Aurochs-morphology, aDNA and DNA-analysis in accordance with the research-partners of the Tauros-Programme (e.g. Wageningen University). Furthermore, the project works on the exchange of suitable crosses between the Auerrind Project and the Tauros Programme (Rewilding Europe) in the process of selective breeding and for the usage in selected rewilding areas in Europe.
Aurrind project vision is to broaden the knowledge about the extinct aurochs and in cooperation with partners create a functional wild animal that resembles the extinct auroch. The end goal is to back breed this large grazer as natural grazing as a key natural process, keeps parts of the land free from forests, providing open habitats that support a wide range of plants and animals.
Uniqueness of the project: The Lauresham Laboratory for Experimental Archaeology as initiator of the Auerrind project gives the extraordinary chance to give answers on important historical, ecological archaeological questions of the 21st century.
Other activities: Community involved, Eco tourism, Education, Recreational activities, Research
Achievements
Results you aim to accomplish in 10 years from now on: Looking in the future, let's say the year 2030, our expectations are that we have broadened our knowledge about the extinct aurochs but also managed to create a functional wild animal, by back-breeding the closest relatives of the original aurochs. Furthermore, we hope to foster awareness about the importance of rewilding, returning natural processes such as natural grazing and the need for large herbivores in our nature.
Results so far: Four breeding herds established in Lorsch/Bensheim, Einhausen, Bielefeld and Schwarzach, grazing on more than 50ha of grounds in total. A large system of meadows allowing year-round grazing is currently in the development. The project established the aurochs research database which includes radiocarbon-dating, the analysis of data on the existing Aurochs bone material from the Upper Rhine Valley, aDNA-testing on Aurochs material in cooperation with the University of Kiel and other. Research done by the Tauros programme will also be included into the database.
The project hosted and organized a conference on natural grazing and back breeding, as the first step of creating a network where similar projects can share know-how, data and experience. Furthermore, extensive work has been done on education and boosting nature-based tourism. In April 2018 the project signed the cooperation agreement with Taurus Foundation from the Netherlands.
Exchange
Inspirational value: Teamwork, determination and commitment to reaching the common goal of making our world a little bit wilder.
Experience you would like to share: We would very much like to share our research results in order to help other similar projects and the Tauros Programme by Rewilding Europe and Taurus Foundation.
Experience you would like to gain: Management and acquisition of the large-scale natural grazing areas.
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