Indigenous domestic animal diversity constitute a major valuable asset for Africa and for the world. In Africa, indigenous livestock breeds support the majority of smallholder rural farmers for whom these genetic resources are essential for improved nutrition, income and as a secure form of investment. They also provide the only practical means of using vast areas of natural grasslands in regions where crop production is unpractical. However, the accelerating demands of a growing human population and pressures of economic development are affecting the security and survival of these animal genetic resources. There is an increasing tendency to introduce exotic germplasm and/or to concentrate on a narrow range of supposedly more profitable ones. Consequently, native breeds which have been naturally selected for the local environments and are therefore best adapted, are threatened. Unfortunately, most of these breeds are, at best, only superficially characterized. Additionally, population statistics on the basis of which the extent of threat could be determined is lacking m most cases. For many breeds, the most rational conservation strategy will be as functioning parts of the production system, i.e. through sustained utilisation. However, extent of use of a breed depends on awareness of its existence and potential, including information on its characteristics. This paper summarises the issues and current developments in characterization, conservation and utilization of indigenous African domestic animal diversity.

J. EO Rege

Proceedings of the World Congress on Genetics Applied to Livestock Production, Volume 21. Gene mapping; polymorphisms; disease genetic markers; marker assisted selection; gene expression; transgenes; non-convention, , 439–446, 1994
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