What’s a breed?

I have been discussing this topic recently with my friends and learned colleagues in India. It came out that there actually never has been a scientific breed survey in the country and that basically India’s breed classification dates back to colonial times. It was always assumed a priori that only 20% of livestock belongs to a specifc breed and that the rest is non-descript. No wonder then, that new breeds are coming to light now and then. For instance the NGO Lokhit Pashu-Palak Sansthan (LPPS) reported about Malvi camel and Nari cattle sometime ago. Then Sahjeevean, an NGO based in Kutch (Gujarat), managed to get the Banni buffalo breed officially recognized. Now, they have identified another breed, the Kharai camel, that swims to and lives off the mangroves on the coast.
Getting a “new” breed recognised is a major effort, requiring lots of genetical studies to confirm that the breed is indeed unique. But it seems to me this approach needs to be streamlioned, especially if there apparently never was a real breed survey and the existing classification is based on more or less anecdotal evidence.


About ikrweb

I'm a researcher, writer and activist passionately believing in animal cultures rather than animal industries. Since about 20 years I have been making my home among the Raika, the traditional camel and sheep herders of Rajasthan in India, and observed how their life has been changing... how economic development, forest policies, population growth and other factors are impacting their traditional way of life. With the help of my colleagues from Lokhit Pashu-Palak Sansthan (www.lpps.org) and League for Pastoral Peoples and Endogenous Livestock Development (www.pastoralpeoples.org) I have been trying to support them in their struggle for cultural and economic survival. On this blog I would like to chronicle some of these efforts.
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