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The longest horns

Posted in Animals, Geography on Friday, 29 June 2007

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Long horned cattle (picture, illustration: Kenneth Lily)

These magnificent long-horned cattle belong to the Bahima herdsmen of Uganda. To these herdsmen the cattle mean practically everything, supplying them with meat, milk and hides, the latter being cured and used for a great many domestic purposes.
The cattle are also held sacred by the Bahimas, and are regarded as the living religious symbol of their god. Not only this: a man’s social standing is relative to the number of cattle he owns.

By tradition, each animal is given a name. usually with some reference to its colour and markings. It is said that the animals know their own names and will answer to them when called.

The cattle shown here are heavily-boned and about the same size as own large beef-producing animals. The huge horns are hollow and are not nearly as cumbersome as they look. Their enormous size gives the animals a fearsome appearance, but they are not really in the least bit dangerous and are often left in the charge of small boys. When the herds graze far from the kraal or village, however, the men, carrying long spears, take over to protect the cattle from the occasional prowling lion.

These animals are extremely hardy. They walk many miles a day in search of grazing and can go for hours without water. The quality of the meat and milk they produce is rather poor, but the experts believe that modern selective breeding methods could make them one of the finest beef-producing breeds in the world.

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