DR BAMEKA, RONALD
The study set out to assess the extent to which indigenous knowledge is used in selection of the productive characteristics of Ankole cattle. The diversity of indigenous Ankole cattle breed is being reduced through replacement by indiscriminate importation of exotic breeds of higher economic potential or crossbreeding with exotic breeds. Moreover, such exotic breeds have been selected on the basis of a limited number of traits of commercial interest. This leads to losses of within breed genetic variance and contribute to the erosion of genetic diversity The study was cross sectional in nature conducted in Kazo and Nyabushozi counties of Mbarara district in South Western Uganda. Pastoralists (Bahima), who have information on indigenous knowledge about Ankole cattle breeds and who use it to select superior bulls and cows, constituted the study population. A total of 167 pastoralists were targeted for the study where a total of 150 responded. It imaged from the study that the Bahima can easily identify their animals mainly by color patterns, they can also easily tell the relationships of the animal by their structures. More than 90% of the respondents were able tell production traits like growth, high quality meat, resistance to disease, fertility and milk production at birth. Between 88.0 and 97.1% of the respondents were able to tell the significance of some body parts like hooves, tail, testicles and dewlap in production. The findings also indicate that Intangible non-market values, like beauty often missed by scientific breeding goals are considered when using indigenous knowledge. It is recommended that more research be conducted in other areas and this knowledge be preserved for future use and the education of the pastoralists should be emphasized. It therefore recommended that another study be conducted in the same area to experimentally vilify the conclusions from this study.
1. 1 Livestock production in Africa
Livestock production is an important economic activity in Africa and elsewhere. It is a major food supply and livelihood of man (Petersen, 2000). Millions of the world’s poor rely on livestock for their living (Sandford, 1983). Cattle, sheep, pigs and goats, chickens and camels account for about 30 percent of total human requirements for food and non-food agricultural commodities (FAO, 1999) by providing final and intermediate outputs. Such outputs vary from being direct food products, such as meat, milk, eggs and blood, to products, such as dung, wool, hides and skins and draught power. A number of these products are a vital source of proteins and income for small farmers and pastoralists in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Specifically, cattle serve as an important cash reserve and a store of value, especially in low-income mixed farming systems. They may graze on patched dry lands, steep hills, mountains and roadsides, which are resources that would otherwise go to waste. It has also been estimated that nearly 70 per cent of the world’s rural poor depend on livestock as a component of their livelihoods (Livestock in Development, 1999). However, in Europe, where currently nearly two fifths of existing breeds are at risk, one third of breeds that existed at the turn of the century have already been lost (Hammond and Leitch, 1996a). In Africa, it is estimated that 22 percent African cattle breeds have become extinct in the last 100 years while 27 percent are at varying degrees of risk (Rege, 1999). Thus, there is a need to conserve Domestic Animal Diversity (DAD), including the breeds that are threatened by extinction.
1.2 Cattle production in the Eastern and Southern Africa Region
Cattle in East and Southern African Region are key to subsistence, nutrition, income generation, assets, security, social and cultural functions, (Jahnke, 1982). Nonetheless, their main products remain meat, milk, hides, manure and...