Monday, September 03, 2007

Want to buy a big horn?

No? Then I guess this isn't so surprising:

Scientists predict that Uganda’s indigenous Ankole cattle—famous for their graceful and gigantic horns—could face extinction within 20 years because they are being rapidly supplanted by Holstein-Friesians, which produce much more milk.
Ugandans are following the money, just like we do in our day jobs, and if this made it worth keeping their Ankoles:
During a recent drought, some farmers that had kept their hardy Ankole were able to walk them long distances to water sources while those who had traded the Ankole for imported breeds lost their entire herds.
Then they'd keep them. That's not to say short-sightedness never happens, but rather to bet on the Ugandan farmers' aggregate self interest rather than the wisdom of these guys.

Gene banks are a good idea, of course, so this is welcome:
With the world’s first global inventory of farm animals showing many breeds of African, Asian, and Latin American livestock at risk of extinction, scientists from the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) today called for the rapid establishment of genebanks to conserve the sperm and ovaries of key animals critical for the global population’s future survival.
But if we really want to see a range of farm animals survive, we need to buy their horns. Or their meat.

Soay, and other rare breed, sheep, produce meat that makes you say "Ah! That's what lamb tastes like!". Not for everyday eating necessarily, and necessarily more expensive than standard lamb, because they grow more slowly and to a lower weight, but definitely for an occasional treat.

Welcome to proper, viable conservation - saving breeds by eating them. It works, it's delicious and - perhaps best of all - it will make the nearest bearded vegetarian cycle nazi's head explode.

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