The National Park combines habitat management work with the preservation of traditional domestic animals and uses traditional and endangered species on its pasture land. Hungarian longhorns (Grey cattle), Water buffalos, White donkeys and Mangalitza-pigs were very common in past centuries. Breeding these species in National Parks and zoos is an important contribution for preserving them. The Przewalski's Horses graze here thanks to the co-operation between the National Park and the Vienna Zoo.
Large herds have been part of the open landscape of the Small Hungarian Plain for centuries. Be it herds of Grey cattle that were passing by on the way to different European cities, or cattle, horses, pigs and sheep owned by local villages, even poultry, they all formed this extraordinary cultural landscape and they are of cultural value in themselves. During the last decades of intensified and mechanised agriculture, domestic animals almost became extinct.
Preserving rare habitats in the Neusiedler-See Seewinkel National Park goes hand in hand with diversifying gene pools of endangered domestic animals. That way the National Park preserves natural and cultural heritage. Pasturage is coordinated by the National Park; the animals are owned and cared for by the National Park and private owners.
The following are the breeding projects in the National Park.
Status 2005: 450 animals
Location: Sandeck-Nedegg Conservation Zone
Characteristics: The colour ranges from silvery-white to cinereous around eyes, venter and haunch, especially bulls can be of darker colour. Calves are born with reddish-yellow fur. Their horns are directed upward and are long and curved and oxen horns can reach up to 80cm.
Hungarian Grey cattle are slender and tall. The bulls reach a height of 140 to 155 cm, cows 135 to 140 cm and a weight of 500 to 950 kg. The Hungarian Greys are easy-calving, calves grow fast. Annual milk yield: 2000kg; Hungarian grey cows are often used for breeding feeder cattle.
Dispersal: Hungary, small herds can be found in Central and Eastern Europe.
Qualities: The Hungarian Greys are robust, uncomplicated, hard workers and long-living.
History: Theories about their origin are diverse. The breed probably arrived in the 9th century during the Hungarian immigration from the east to the Carpathian Basin. Other theories say that they came later from the east or south (the Balkans, Italy). From the 14th until the 18th century the Hungarian grey was famous for its beef qualitiy, especially in Italy, Austria and Germany. As agriculture intensified in the 19th century, they served as draught cattle. Numbers decreased in the 19th century; there were only 187 cows and 6 bulls left. Stud book breeding since 1931.
Status 2005: 37 animals
Location: Sandeck-Neudegg Conservation Zone
Usually black, some whitings, their build is chunkier than the Indo-Pakistani milking buffalo.
All milking buffalos descend from the Wild Asiatic Water Buffalo (Bubalus arnee, Arni). Water buffalos are divided into two groups: Swamp buffalo and river buffalo. The swamp buffalo is valuable for its meat and the labour it performs; the milk is not very important. In Turkey and south-eastern Europe, people use Water buffalos for labour and milk, as well as for meat.
Water buffalos in countries along the Danube, where they still exist and are still bred, are less and less important as draught animal. Nowadays they are mostly used for milkproduction. As water buffalos – compared to common cattle which descend from aurochs – can decompose cellulose quite well, these animals have the ability to thrive on poor feed.
You can still find primal Water buffalo herds in Hungary in the Hortobágy-Puszta and near Lake Balaton but some have been imported from Romania. The west-Hungarian Water buffalo, of which only few animals remain in the Kis-Balaton and the Veszprem Zoo, is very rare among domestic animals. The Vienna zoo is also breeding Water buffalos in order to preserve this species.
Status 2005: 30 animals living in the National Park
The White Donkeys from the Austro-Hungarian Empire are donkeys with unpigmented skin and light-blue eyes. Their fur is yellow-white. In the past, these donkeys were popular among rich landowners in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Today, there are about 150-200 animals.
Status 2005: 80 animals
Location: Podersdorf – Karmazik Conservation Zone
Characteristics: slate grey skin, three colours, yellow, red and swallow bellied (bright underside, snout disk, eyelid and anus are black) ears are medium-sized and dangle to the front, The young are striped like wild boar. The pig can reach 75 (sow) to 85 cm (boar) height and weighs up to 350 kg.
Dispersal: Hungary, Romania, South-Eastern Europe, former Yugoslavia, Switzerland
Qualities: fat-type pig, can cope with low temperatures thanks to its fur, as well as with high temperatures as long as it can wallow in the mud. Very frugal, small litter, (5-6 young); can be used for breeding from the age of 11-13 months.
History: Descends from the Serbian Šumadija breed with which the Bakonyi and Szalontai breeds were crossed in the mid 19th century. The fat-type was bred on purpose. In 1927, the Hungarian Association of Mangaliza breeders was founded and now serves as a gene bank.
Status 2005: 6 animals
Location: near Neusiedler See, north of Illmitz
Characteristics: Stockily built wild horse that looks like a pony. The coloration varies from brown, greyish, sandy to red. Mane, tail and legs are black, the area around the mouth is white, dark eel back, legs are sometimes faintly striped, heavy head, short ears, outstanding mane which stands erect; it is between 130 to 155 cm high (withers)
Dispersal: There are about 1500 animals living in zoos and wildlife parks; exterminated in their last refuge in Mongolia at the Chinese border (Gobi Desert between the Altai range and the Tienschan) and successfully reintroduced.
History: As we know from cave paintings, these horses were native in Western Europe during the Old Stone Age. They were pushed back into inhospitable regions as they were hunted by humans (food competitors for domestic animals, unwanted mates for mares). The Russian explorer Przewalskij discovered these horses in Mongolia in 1870. In 1899 and 1902 58 horses were captured. Only 11 of them remain in today’s bloodlines. In 1947, one more mare was caught and one Mongolian domesticated mare still existed. Today, the total breed descends from 13 mares. Only 31 horses survived World War II. The last wild horses were sighted in 1960. In order to preserve the Przewalski's Horse, an international breed register is kept that counts every single horse.