African cows, art and crafts

OK, an unusual topic for a blog, But cattle are very important to the livelihoods of many African tribes.

You may have heard of the Masaai and their cattle?

In such communities cattle are assets, food as well as a source of income which enables them to send child to school and pay for health care. As such folk protect their cattle with their lives quite literally.

Because cattle are seen as assets, Cattle rustling a crime in which farmers seek to steal other farmers’ cattle is on the increase and consequently some farmers have acquired guns to safe guard their cattle.

The biggest threat to cattle is water shortage especially in North West Kenya and North East Uganda where the pastoral tribes walk for days on end in such of water for their animals. This too has created anxiety and conflict amongst these tribes and with the arrival guns who knows where it will end?

This is the typical African cow- I found these in Western Uganda

long horned cows

African cows are useful to crafts women in a different way. The Zebu with its long horns provides raw materials for all manner of accessories especially jewellery that is either sold or used as part of traditional dress. As the saying goes, nothing is wasted on a cow-meaning that every inch of a cow is used/put to good use

Necklace made from cow horns

English cow in Uganda

Not sure when this breed was introduced to Africa. This type are referred to English cows and require specialist care, especially protection from Horn flies, face flies, stable flies, ticks, lice and mites etc, they appear to have adapted well to the Africa. They are believed to provide more milk than the natives and bulls are often used fro cross breeding for this purpose.

I found this one in Eastern Uganda on the slopes of Mount Elgon and it belonged to a coffee grower who collected its dung on a daily basis for use as fertiliser for his crop.

Blondie here is very unusual, I had never seen anything of the sort. I found her at Lake Bunyonyi SW Uganda. It was interesting to note that she was not afraid of cars and kept walking towards our vehicle!

So there you have it folk, Cattle are important in many an African life in many ways than one!


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