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Western Iberia, Spain and Portugal

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SWD-2011-05-08-212136_02.outdoor.jpg
Spanish fighting bull Bos primigenius taurus SPAIN/CIUDAD RODRIGO, SALAMANCA PROVINCE, CASTILLA Y LEÓN The Eurasian aurochs (Bos primigenius primigenius) is the ancestor of every cow and bull on our planet today, but it was unfortunately hunted to extinction in 1627, when the last one died in Poland. The Aurochs were the heaviest land mammals of our continent, and they used to move around in herds, possibly of up to thousands of animals, a bit like the African buffaloes still do today in parts of Africa. Several cattle breeds in Europe still have quite a lot of genes remaining from the Aurochs, which makes them look similar to the Aurochs pictured by artists 15-20,000 years ago in the cave paintings from the Lascaux caves in France, the Altamira caves in Spain, and the rock carvings from the Coa valley in Portugal. The Aurochs bull was dark with a whitish muzzle, often with a brownish mantle, long, lyre-shaped, forward-pointing horns, a straight back and a distinct shoulder hump.The lack of grazing aurochs in the European wilderness ecosystems is one of the missing links of our natural heritage. Rewilding Europe therefore supports the ”Tauros Project” which has the aim to re-create the aurochs, using cattle races like the Maremmana, the Pajuna, the Podolica, the Sayaguesa and a few others, and then let it live like a wild species again. Photo: Staffan Widstrand/Wild Wonders of Europe