In general zebu cattle (Bos indicus) are known to have descended from the secondary cattle domestication in the arid areas of the 'Fertile Crescent' about 5000 BP (Payne and Wilson, 1999), and that they are the most recent types of cattle to be introduced into Africa. Recent molecular genetic as well as archaeological evidences (Hanotte et al., 2002; Marshall, 2000) also showed that the introduction of Zebu cattle into Africa centred in East Africa rather than though the land connection between Egypt and the Near East. Zebu are known to be better than the Humpless cattle in regulating body temperature (hence lower body water requirements). Their hardened hooves and lighter bones enable them to endure long migrations. These adaptive attributes have facilitated their importation and spread by Indian and Arabian merchants across the Red Sea to drier agro-ecological regions of the Horn of Africa (Loftus and Cunningham, 2000). In a clear distinction from the Large East African groups of zebu breeds, which are believed to be akin to the arid environments of the region, the Small East African Zebu group of breeds mainly occupy the higher rainfall agricultural areas. The general differences in body size between the large and small groups appear to have developed in response to environmental adaptation. The broad range of body sizes of the numerous cattle breeds of the Small East African Zebu group are attributed to the level of management (wealth) and influence of the natural environment of the present breeding area. For instance, the improved Boran cattle in Kenya may attain over 450 kg, compared to about 150 kg for the Chaga Zebu on the slopes of Kilimanjaro. Otherwise, their evolutionary origins are similar to that of the Large East African Zebu. The Small East African Zebu has spread widely in eastern Africa subsequent to the cattle plague of the early 20th century, which wiped out the dominant Sanga populations (Epstein, 1971).
Breed Origin :
Baherie cattle of Eritrea that inhabit coastal area of Massawa region have variously been called Bahari (meaning cattle from Sea/Ocean), Berbera (cattle from Somalia or Aden (of Yemen). These names suggest recent origins of the cattle from Arabia and/or close relationship with the cattle of Somalia. Similar cattle were also reported earlier in the extreme north of Somalia (Rege and Tawah, 1999). Cattle have been shipped from the city of Aden to coastal towns of eastern Africa from the seventh century.
Found along the cost of Massawa region in eastern Eritrea.
Small animals with short horns; coat colour varies from fawn to reddish brown.