Imagine a cattle like you’d see on a farm, but with a tree trunk-sized pair of horns, spanning up to 2.5 meters from one tip to another. This majestic and gentle beast exists, and it is known as the Watusi. Here are 8 surprising facts you may not know about the Watusi Cattle.
1. They are domesticated
Although you may have encountered one on the Safari Journey, the Bos taurus isn’t a wild animal. These cattle were originally from East Africa and the species have long been a part of the Tutsi, Bahima, Ankole, and Kivu cultures.
2. They look different from most cattle
The appearance of the Watusi cattle is striking and a little different from most of the dairying cattle around the world. Apart from the 71 cm diameter long horns, the cattle lack a hump on its neck and have a more “athletic” stature.
3. Their ancestors have long horns
The Watusi is a descendant of two ancient breeds of cattle, the Egyptian longhorn – which are depicted in the Egyptian hieroglyphs – and the Zebu longhorn, which have migrated from Asia.
4. They are hardy survivors of drought
The Watusi, like most livestock animals, are a product of selective breeding. However, unlike most cattle, the Watusi have evolved on their own to be adaptive to the harsh dry seasons. The hardiness of the cattle is one of the reasons why the animals are much valued and loved. Which brings us to fact #5.
5. They are a status symbol
To the herding nomads of the Tutsi, Bahima, Ankole, and Kivu cultures, owning a Watusi cattle brings respect and status. Like houses, they are bought as a way to represent their wealth. They can be sold or bartered as well, making them valuable commodities, like gold! Having a herd of good-looking long-horned Watusi cattle looks cool and admiring.
6. They don’t produce a lot of milk and are rarely used for meat
Because the Watusi cattle is used as a status symbol, they are rarely slaughtered for meat. The only other use for raising the cattle is to obtain milk. However, they produce milk very poorly, just under 1 liter a day during lactation period. As a comparison, the conventional dairy Holstein-Frisian cows are able to produce up to 20 liters a day.
7. They produce high quality meat
The United States host a number of Watusi cattle herds, whose owners slaughter them for high quality, low-fat, low-cholesterol meat. It is legal to breed them for food, because they are not considered wild animals.
8. They are protective to their calves even when they sleep
Watusi cattle exhibit a unique behavior. When the calves sleep, they tend to sleep together and closely with an adult female, regardless of whether that female is the calf’s mother. The adult cattle encircles the young when they sleep, forming a protective wall that is ready to attack an intruder.
Because of their striking difference to the average cattle we have known since childhood, the nature of Watusi cattle is very interesting to study. If you want to see these majestic animals, simply go on a Safari Journey. Visit the Bali Safari Park website to learn more.