The True Nature Foundation has launched a project to bring back the Aurochs; the Uruz Project.
Online PR News – 26-October-2013 – Nijmegen, The Netherlands – Uruz is the old Germanic word for Aurochs and seems fit for a project that has the goal to recreate the mighty wild cattle that roamed throughout Europe until four centuries ago. Chairman Henri Kerkdijk-Otten has co-initiated and steered a previous similar project, but left that project because he believes that there is a more direct path towards the Aurochs and therefore is now bend on elevating things to a whole new level. The ultimate goal is to create a cattle breed that resembles the Aurochs in every aspect; appearance, behavior and even genetics.
The most notable thing about the whole Uruz Project is the use of science in every aspect of it. The DNA of the Aurochs has been completely reconstructed and will serve as the baseline for the reconstruction of the Aurochs. That DNA will be studied, to see how characteristics of the animal are coded. The same DNA will tell us how big Aurochs populations were and how variable they were. And the knowledge of Aurochs DNA will also be used to change certain aspects of present day cattle DNA by means of so-called genome editing. Genome editing is a completely new field of science and will save generations of breeding, it will reduce unwanted traits and it will eliminate wrong genes, so they cannot pop back up in later generations. The Project is also very thorough by reducing the amount of founder cattle breeds and only use those few selected breeds which already have a strong resemblance to the Aurochs. “This all means we can have Aurochs-like animals in just two cattle generations with a minimum number of setbacks” explains Henri Kerkdijk-Otten.
The research needed is being performed by an international consortium of scientific institutes and organizations, representing the best of the best in geneticists, ancient geneticists and molecular biologists.
Simultaneously, multiple nature organizations and other partners from all over Europe have gathered in the Uruz Project. Breeding herds will start this year in Portugal, Spain, Germany, Italy, Czech Republic, Poland and Russia. Other countries will follow in the next years.
The question remains why the True Nature Foundation should be doing this. The sole reason is the fact that ecological restoration projects, such as are being undertaken by the True Nature Foundation and their partners, cannot be complete without bringing back those key elements that help shape and reshape wild landscapes. One of the so called keystone animal species is the Aurochs, a large animal that has dominated the landscape until just a few centuries ago. It is predicted that large herds of Aurochs will attract paying visitors and thus will contribute to local communities in dire need of new economic prospects for their area. The Aurochs will therefore be the flagship species for nature restoration in Europe. Henri Kerkdijk-Otten summarizes "We have the means and the cause to do it, so let us move forward on our path to bring back this lost icon of Europe".