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Endemic cattle of the Northern Sporades archipelago


On the Northern Sporades Archipelago, all the indigenous stock of cattle became  extinct in the early 1990s. This invaluable loss of genetic material is one of the tragic consequences of Greek ignorance and indifference.

These dwarf cattle were adapted to live in dry, rocky habitat and to feed on the sparse grasses and herbs rather than browse on saplings, leaves and twigs as goats do. I tried locally and at ministerial level to save the last herd on Piperi owned by Thomas Lemonis of  Skopelos. In vain...the last individuals were shot on Piperi at about the same time when the Marine Park - with Piperi being declared a  strict core zone - was officially established. Nobody seemed to have espressed any regret or even taken notice.

The photographs were taken on Piperi (and Skopelos) in 1982, on Gioura in 1976.

The picture of the Piperi bull  was taken by Aliki Panou prior to 1980.

The Piperi cattle were presented in two TV documentaries: Rare Breeds in a Changing World (for ERT 1) and Haustiere vom Aussterben bedroht (for ZDF). In both films one can observe how the animals graze on the ground. Evidently, they do not affect trees or bushes.

The three animals on Gioura were kept by the warden. He sold them to the butcher on Alonnisos for 1.800 DMark - very regrettably I was not there at the time to intervene. The cow originated  from Kyra Panagia Island, and the bull from Geraka on Alonnisos, as I was told.

For the management of grazing and protection of the higher vegetation cover on the large island of Kyra Panagia, two or three small herds of old breed cattle had been recommended at several occasions. Thus effective measures of avoiding the catastrophic over - grazing that rapidly devastates now this formery very green island (by more than 4.000 goats!) could have been perfectly integrated into the Natinal Park scheme. It should be mentioned that such large numbers of goats are illegal, but they where tolerated by the oficial Park's management body (and the guarding agency MOm!) knowingly and continuously (cf. the article about Kyra Panagia and other relevant articles under the category "Northern Sporades").

Attached is my letter of 1976:

Postanschrift:  Kaiserstr. 52   D - 8000 München 40

Herrn Marinos Yeroulanos

Executive Secretary

National Council for

Physical Planning and Environment

Ministry of Coordination

München, den 7. Okt. 1976

Betr.  Rinderrasse auf den Nördlichen Sporaden

Sehr geehrter Herr Yeroulanos,

Auf Ihren Wunsch hin sende ich Ihnen beiliegend eine Ablichtung des Entwurfs eines Aufsatzes über die Bedeutung von traditionellen Haustierrassen. Daraus können Sie Argumente für die Bedeutung der Erhaltung des sog. Alonnisos - Rindes entnehmen.

Zusammengefaßt ergeben sich folgende Argumente:

Erhaltung der letzten Herde (Besitzer Thomas Lemonis, Skopelos) als genepool für Züchtungen  in der Zukunft.

Optimale Anpassung an Inselklima - und Vegetation, damit maximale Ausnutzng der natürlichen Ressourcen der Inseln.

Potentieller Ersatz (partiell) für die ökologisch destruktive Hausziege. Natürlich nicht völliger Ersatz, da die Lebensansprüche etwas verschieden sind. Zusätzlich des Hausschafs.

Widerstandsfähigkeit gegen Krankheiten. Keine Geburtskomplikationen.

Einfache Haltung (Freihaltung).

Es wird vorgeschlagen, die Tiere auf Alonnisos und später auch im Bereich des geplanten Schutzgebietes (Zone II) auf Piperi und Kyra Panagia als freilebende Herden zu halten.

Zu den ökonomischen Aspekten kommt noch der kulturelle: Erhaltung eines bedutenden Traditionsgutes zur Bewahrung der regionalen Identität.

Mit den besten Empfehlungen,

Ihr (Thomas Schultze-Westrum)

On Kyra Panagia in traditional times a herd of approx. 100 heads was kept.

The origin of this breed is the Chalkidiki Peninsula. From the port of Sykia cattle was regularly shipped to the islands.

Still there exist at least one more or less pure herd of the Sykia - cattle on the Calkidike. The last chance to save it will have passed soon!

Cf. also the articles on Alonnisos and Skyros islands with more pictures.

Veröffentlicht am Kategorien European Dilemma - Greek Tragedy, Goats, Northern Sporades, Rare breedsSchlagwörter , , , ,

Über Thomas Schultze-Westrum

Dr. Thomas Georg Hans SCHULTZE-WESTRUM Author of Scientific and Popular Publications Producer and Director of Documentary Films and Videos Adviser in Nature Conservation and Preservation of Rural Cultures Initiator of Conservation Programmes German national. Born 1937 (Berlin). Classical education at the Benedictine monastery of Ettal in Upper Bavaria. Graduate of Munich University, with degrees in Zoology, Geology and Cultural Anthropology (Ethnology). Scholarship by “Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes”. Research (University of Munich, other scientific institutions) and publications on social and population physiology of marsupials and other vertebrate fauna of New Guinea and the Mediterranean Region, cultural anthropology, conservation and resource management on the village level, mainly in Greece and New Guinea. Author of the books “New Guinea” (Berne 1972) and “Biologie des Friedens” (Biology of Peace), Munich 1974. Dr. Schultze-Westrum has joined for several years the Commissions on Ecology and Environmental Planning of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN). He is the founder of the working group (IUCN Commission on Ecology) “Conservation and Traditional Life Styles” 1979; the “ECOCULTURE” Movement 1981; the “Gesellschaft für die Erhaltung alter und gefährdeter Haustierrassen” GEH (Society for the Preservation of Old and Endangered Breeds of Domestic Animals) 1981; and the non-profit-making society “KALLIERGIA”, for traditional agriculture and village conservation in Greece, 1993. As a consultant he has worked for the EU, IUCN, OECD and WWF. As a film maker he has produced, directed and mostly also shot, for German television and international TV networks, 75 documentaries, mainly ecological portraits with emphasis upon the integration of local and traditionally living people into conservation projects. His first film (1974) was about alternative (sustainable) utilization of tropical rainforests in New Guinea, for ZDF. Never Dr. Schultze-Westrum has entered any of his films into an award winning competition, because he is more concerned about the effects of his TV work in actual conservation and public awareness. One of these real awards was the creation of the Marine National Park Alonnisos Northern Sporades in Greece as a result of his film “The Coast of the Monk Seals” in 1976/77 for ZDF (ratings 36 % - shown in 11 countries). His programme “Green Desert”, about traditional water management in the Sultanate of Oman was distributed by the Television Trust for the Environment TVE to 44, mainly Third World, countries. Another leading aspect of his film work was the production of environmental films for the people of the country where he was filming. So, he produced the first TV series of films on ecology, rural life styles and conservation for Greece (in the early 80’s, 14 programmes) and for the Sultanate of Oman (late 80’s, 12 films). His deep interest in ancient human traditions inspired him to produce “Omani Seafaring”, for Oman TV; “Im Kielwasser Sindbads” (In the Wake of Sindbad), for the series Terra X of ZDF; and “Insel der Magier” (Island of the Sorcerers: Waigeo) for ARTE TV. After retiring from TV film production at the end of 2002 he is returning to his earlier scientific work (abandoned in the early 70’s) about the social and population physiology of marsupials ( Petaurus breviceps papuanus and closely related species); village based conservation; the evolution of human communal behaviour and cultural diversity; and the evolution of art styles in the Papuan Gulf province of New Guinea. Since 1992 he is also involved in eco- and agrotourism programmes that are based on his earlier promotion of this alternative “soft” tourism through publications and films, in Greece and West Papua. His conservation activities are continuously focussed on Greece and New Guinea, since 1957 and 1959, respectively. Dr. Schultze-Westrum now is writing up his experiences of many years field work and he is keeping communications alive through his homepage, from the ancient village of Kazaviti on the island of Thassos in the northern Aegean Sea. The conservation and re-activation of outstanding traditional values of Kazaviti stand at the centre of a local museum and documentation centre to be set up in one or even two old Macedonian stone houses.