Grovni Foundation: Projects






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European Ark Network "Arca-Net"
Arca-Net is a Europe-wide network of institutions showing and promoting rare breeds and historical plants to the public, as ark-farms, pedagogic farms, open air museums, animal parks, variety gardens etc.. The associated, database-driven website is designed as a real tourist guide. Search functions are available in English, French, German and Italian. The project is being conducted by the European SAVE Foundation. Grovni Foundation and its founder have personally supported, in particular the phase 2 of the project (extension to the whole of Europe and involving plant-keeping institutions).
Project description Arca-Net
- Link:


Area Monitoring:
Grovni Foundation is active also in areas not covered by other organisations, where others don't feel responsible. Such a case is the South Caucasus area which plays a huge role for agro-biodiversity. It is disputed to be part of Europe and as it belonged formerly to the Soviet-Union it is e.g. not in the activity area of SAVE Foundation. That's why Grovni became active in Georgia:
- Project report Georgia


Autochthonous Alpine Breeds:
The Grovni Foundation supports via the SAVE Foundation the efforts of the Mountain Heritage Network (Pro Patrionio Montano) for autochthonous Alpine Breeds". This has set itself the objective of maintaining remnants of formerly important livestock breeds that had adapted to the specific circumstances of the Alps. A main attention is paid to the black pig breeds. These were almost completely replaced by white pigs on high performance, but could in the future - under extensive conditions - play again a greater role in ecological Alpine farming. They are all-terrain, hardly sensitive to sunburn and develop a tasty, marbled meat. However, the engagement also applies to other breeds, such as the Ciuta sheep from Valtellina, the smallest sheep in the Alps.

- Project description Black Alpine pig
Project description Ciuta sheep



Carpathian Buffalo and Carpathian dwarf cattle:
Buffalos have been a part of the agricultural scenery in the Danubian basin and the Southern Carpathians for thousands of years. They are the most northerly representatives of their species. Their hooves are hard, adapted to the stony ground of the mountains. Their coat is long, to protect them in the harsh winters. A compact and bulky body makes the Carpathian Buffalo a robust survival act. These features clearly differentiate it from its southern colleagues. The Carpathian Buffalo has enormous stamina as a draft animal and the milk and meat produced are delicious. But in the age of motorization the work force is hardly used anymore and the buffalo are not easy to keep, so the breeding dramatically collapses in almost all countries.

The Grovni Foundation therefore supports the buffalo network of the SAVE Foundation for the preservation of the breed in South Eastern Europe and even bought in the Carpatho-Ukraine in cooperation with the local conservation organization SATrans (Securing Agrobiodiversity in Transcarpathia) last animals to provide them for further breeding.
- Carpathian Buffalo 2009 short report
Discussion of origin

Already almost extinct are the Carpathian dwarf cattle, called in Romania "Mocanitsa", in Ukraine "Rishka". After more than a decade of almost unsuccessful field search (without promising breeding outlook) representatives of SATrans now found so many specimen that finally a rescue project could be launched.
- Carpathian dwarf cattle


Tarpan-like horses:
The European wild horse, the Tarpan is extinct. Some primeval horse breeds still show characteristics of the tarpans and it is assumed that in these breeds quite some tarpan blood still lives on. A good example are the Polish Koniks which have been returned to the wild to graze as useful large herbivores in nature reserves and national parks.
Tarpan-like horses can also be found with the Hutsul horse-breed in the Central Caparpathians and with some mountain horses in the Balkans. Together with the Ukranian organisation SATrans, Grovni Foundation is establishing a nucleus stock of hutsul horses, showing an eel-stripe on the back and zebra stripes not only on the legs, but also on back and croup.

- Pictures of these primeval hutsul horses

In the frame of the Balkan project of SAVE Foundation, supported from Heidehof Foundation, a new breeding stock of primeval mountain horses with dorsal stripes could be established at Dimitrovgrad, Serbia. With help of Grovni founder Hape Grunenfelder this breeding stock could be expanded.
- Docu:
Local horses Serbja

Karakachan horses, Bulgaria:
Thanks to intensive search by the Bulgarian Semperviva Society three remaining herds of Karakachan horses could be identified in the Rhodope mountains in the year 2000. In spring 2001, one of the groups should be slaughtered. With non bureaucratic pre-financing of the Grovni founder the 18 horses were purchased by Semperviva and brought into their rescue station in Vlahi (at Pirin National Park). Via SAVE Foundation and with the support of Liechtenstein's "Fondation pour les Animaux du Monde" a multi-year conservation project could then be built up.
- Link:


Sykia cattle:
Greece has two steppe cattle breeds, the large-framed Katerini cattle and the smaller Sykia breed (see picture above). The latter was formerly widespread in Halkidiki, but was told extinct by the scientists of the Agricultural University of Thessaloniki, because there would be no more purebred bulls. As part of the SAVE monitoring work in Greece still a larger herd of Sykia with older and younger bulls was discovered. Thanks to the support of Dr. Oliver Wackernagel, Basel, and Hape Grunenfelder the Greek SAVE partner organization Amaltheia could buy a part of the herd and bring it as a nucleus group to an ark station for further breeding.

Prespa dwarf cattle:
Within the frame of the MAVA-supported study "Animal Genetic Resources in Greece" of the SAVE-Monitoring Institute, Hape Grunenfelder got several hints about the existence of "dwarf cattle" in the village Psarades in the Greek part of the Prespa catchment. In May 2006, he therefore tried to investigate the seriousness of these messages and to document the population. Since similar animals were to be expected behind the nearby border with Albania, he investigated the whole area of the Prespa Lakes. In Albania he acquired 3 purebred bulls and lent them to the farmers for further breeding.

On the Greek side remained until 2011 some 20 pure-bred animals, 200-300 in Albania. With the help of the Society for the Protection of Prespa and the national SAVE partners "AlbaGene" in Albania and "Amaltheia" in Greece now new nucleus groups for a conservation breeding could be formed. The costs for the program in Albania the Jeanne Lovioz Foundation, Basle, took over and Hape Grunenfelder those for the Greek part. The Grovni Foundation will support the further efforts.
- Report on identifying
Prespa cattle
Map of distribution of Prespa breeding groups 2011



Wild species:
Hape Grunenfelder originally came from nature protection to the field of agro-biodiversity. He has used his life for the return of beaver and lynx to Central Europe. He was also a member of the European lynx group. Grovni therefore supports now almost extinct populations of the Balkan and the Iberian lynx. Also supported are scientifically managed animal parks as Goldau SZ, Gossau SG and Langenberg ZH.

Another commitment concerns the support of the international Waldrapp-Team for the reintroduction of the Northern Bald Ibis in the Lake Constance area (Überlingen) and in Switzerland, especially at the former occurrence at Bad Ragaz-Pfäfers



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