Prespa is home to an indigenous and distinctive dwarf shorthorn cattle breed, that has adapted to the particular conditions of the area’s weather and terrain over time. The animals are small, hardy and disease-resistant, with gray to brown or almost black coats and a long, relatively narrow muzzle with a characteristic white ring around it. Since 1992, the Society for the Protection of Prespa (SPP) has worked on efforts to identify and preserve this endangered breed, while in 2011 it began working with the Swiss Safeguard for Agricultural Varieties in Europe (SAVE) Foundation with the aim of saving Prespa’s dwarf cattle. The SAVE Foundation assisted in the purchase of animals of the breed, while the SPP was responsible for managing the project, supporting farmers in the purchase and sale of animals, and overseeing the proper observance of the pedigree certificates for the cattle.
The effort to save the breed was also supported by the Greek Centre for Animal Genetic Improvement at Nea Mesimvria, which has been charged by the state with the genetic improvement and rescue of indigenous and rare breeds of domestic animals. The aim of the initiative was to save the remaining purebred animals from uncontrolled hybridisation with animals of imported breeds and also to increase the number and size of herds, in order to secure a sustainable population of the breed in the Prespa basin.
As a result of these efforts three new nucleus herds were established in Greece and Albania, raising the number of pure animals to almost 80. Although the nucleus herd in Albania unfortunately no longer exists, in Greece there has been a further increase of one herd leading to three herds there in total.