UGANDA’s indigenous Ankole cattle – famous for their graceful and gigantic horns -could face extinction, a report has said.
The report titled: “The State of the World’s Animal Genetic Resources” was compiled by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation, with contribution from the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and other research groups. It indicates that the Ankole cattle faces extinction because they are being rapidly supplanted by Holstein-Friesians, which produce more milk.
Scientists predict that the Ankole cattle could disappear within 20 years. They said during a recent drought, some farmers who had kept their hardy were able to walk them through long distances to water sources while those who had traded the Ankole breeds for imported ones lost their entire herds. The researchers surveyed farm animals in 169 countries.
The report, which was presented to policy makers, scientists and livestock keepers at the ongoing first International Technical Conference on Animal Genetic Resources in Switzerland, warns that over-reliance on a few breeds of farm animal species, such as high-milk-yielding holstein-friesian cows, egg-laying white leghorn chicken, and fast-growing large white pigs, is causing the loss of an average of one livestock breed every month.
About 70 per cent of the entire world’s remaining unique livestock breeds are found in developing countries, according to ILRI. “Africa is one of the regions with the richest remaining diversity and is likely to be a hotspot of breed losses in this century,” ILRI Director General Carlos Seré said. Many smallholder farmers, including those in Uganda, have abandoned their traditional animals in favour of higher yielding stock imported from Europe and the US.
Mr Seré said the exotic animal breeds cannot cope with unpredictable fluctuations in the environment or disease outbreaks when introduced into more demanding environments in the developing world.