Drs. Henri Kerkdijk


Stichting Taurus

Field of expertise

Restoring cattle breeds for Europe; genetics of prehistoric fauna




• I come from an agricultural family and grew up with relatives having cows, horses and other animals.

• I have always been fascinated by (large) animals and made various trips and safari's in Africa, Asia and Russia. I always did my research on the flora, fauna and ecosystems of the places where I went to.

• I studied history with archaeology and the middle ages as special interests. I learned how to research and evaluate (historical) sources and archaeological sources.

• I have worked as content manager of websites for various parties and right now for Stichting Taurus.

• I am a curator at the World Museum of Man, specifically for prehistoric animals (pleistocene, holocene)

• I am a volunteer for Stichting Taurus and the project manager of Project Tauros, an international project to recreate the aurochs not only in phenotype, but also in genotype. It is my goal to look at it from every angle; ecological, historical, genetical, archaezoological, from a breeders point of view, media, public, rules and regulations, etcetera and give the project a clear scientific base and make use of best practices. All the disciplines have to be carefully balanced to get the best and most authentic result possible. I also gathered a big network of people and institutions.

• I adviced the Dutch national forestry (Staatsbosbeheer) in the use of pigs in a nature reserve in Drenthe province (the Netherlands) /

• I participate in a Dutch network that wants to use pigs in landscape management. People from Natuurmonumenten and Staatsbosbeheer are part of that network. I am also in contact with German scientists and breeders.

• I initiated a more detailed research into the prehistoric wild horse. This is still in an initial stage, but relevant contacts have been made with for instance Professor Gus Cothran from the University of Texas, an absolute expert in historic horse breeds and genetical research. The first results seem to point in the direction of the Exmoor pony, while the Konik seems to be clearly of mixed origin. Exmoor ponies are more shy towards humans than Koniks horses and that can be explained from genes and history. However, the Exmoor is not the only candidate.

• I work in the ICT sector, so I know my way with computers.

It is my purpose to help in constructing a bridge from the past to the present. If we want to construct a complete ecosystem and the megafauna of Europe and Asia, we first have to have a sound knowledge about how ecosystems and megafauna looked like in the past. Also we have to filter the impact that humans had on the ecosystem and the megafauna.

Research that will be the first scientific base under every project that is concerned with recreating ecosystems and megafauna. That is where archaeology, archaeozoology, history, genetical studies (ancient DNA studies), ecology, etcetera come together. Authenticity is the foundation on which things can be reconstructed.

We have lost a great deal of the megafauna, but there are also hidden treasures that can be used. For instance, a very recent discovery is that Equus hydruntinus (ancient wild European ass) is genetically undistinguishable from Equus hemionus (Asiatic wild ass). Hydruntinus also lived in wet and cold conditions according to the latest researches, and survived longer than previously thought. This is all essential information, that could lead to the use of Equus hemiones in Europan nature reserves. Next to my bridge building capabilities, I try to look at it from every angle, do extensive research, contact various relevant parties, look for cross-connections and a win-win situation for every party and aspect of a project.

I am glad to offer my skills and effort to help the Large Herbivore Network.