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April 2009

The Indigenous Livestock of Southern Africa

Dawie du Toit, who breeds damaras in South Africa and who is the unofficial unelected President of the "World Damara Federation" recently gave a paper in Paris on The Indigenous Livestock of Southern Africa.He discussed the Ankole cattle of Uganda, the Red Masai sheep of Kenya, Africaner sheep of the Cape, Zulu and Pedi sheep of the Bantu speaking people, and the Sanga cattle and Damara sheep of the Himba people in Northern Namibia. On the front of his report is a picture of a golden ram from the National Museum in Afghanistan which looks just like a damara. He describes the damara as "one of the world's most valuable sheep breeds".

"Damara genes have to a large extent been shaped by natural selection", says Dawie, "The Damara had to survive for many centuries without veterinary support in a hostile environment - the Damara is only one of the few sheep breeds in Southern Africa, that, over millennia, walked all the way down Africa with its African pastoralists".

He also has an interesting history of the Merino, which also came from South Africa, but they did not walk there - they arrived by sea, POSH class, on silk cushions in a golden cage.

See the full report [PDF, 625KB]
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