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The reason it would be beneficial to have herds of aurochs roaming free, the programs argue, is that the large grazers can serve a key ecological role in maintaining and encouraging the biodiversity of Europe's landscapes. When such big grazers graze, their appetites help shape the land, creating open spaces and varied landscapes that help a wide variety of other species succeed in the same neighborhood.
Of today's cattle, the Tauros Programme notes: "none of the current breeds is the optimal grazer for wilderness areas, especially not with big predators around such as wolves, in the bigger European wilderness areas."
The ultimate goal of the Tauros Programme is for there to be herds of new proto-aurochs – around 150 per group – living in self-sustaining populations in Europe by around 2025. The program has bred more than 100 animals so far.
Operation Taurus, for its part, has bred some 300 calves from back-breeding, as it tries to get as close as possible to the real thing. "I don't think we'll ever be able to create an animal that is 100 per cent like the aurochs, but we can get very close," the operation's Donato Matassino told The Telegraph.