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The domestic cattle of the world are all derived from a single wild ancestor, the Aurochs (Bos primigenius), which is now extinct (Maree & Casey 1993:6). Prominent features of early cattle types, which distinguish them from the Aurochs, were the slopes of their horns and the absence or presence of a hump as well as numerous colour variations. All domesticated cattle of the world are nearly all descended from 2 major species: Bos Taurus, which includes European types and Bos Indicus to which Zebu cattle belong.

Cattle can be divided into 3 types of breeds:
� Dairy � used primarily for milk production
� Dual purpose � combines both qualities of milk and beef producing animal
� Beef - used primarily for producing meat.
The southern African cattle population includes many breeds with great variety of features. The shapes and sizes of the horns are a prominent feature of many breeds. There is variation in mature size and maturing abilities, a great variety of colour types and the presence or absence of humps. They can resist tropical diseases, internal and external parasites, drought and poor quality grazing and conditions of excessive heat and humidity (Maree & Casey 1993:7).

Johannesburg Zoo has Nguni cattle
Nguni cow
The cattle ancestors were brought by the Xhosa, Zulu and Swazi people, during their migration to South Africa between 600 -700 AD. These cattle are known for their fertility and resistance to diseases. They are the favourite milk and meat breed in the Southern Africa. These animals have an important role in local tribes. The number of animals owned determines much of their status. Their unique multi-coloured skin comes in many different patterns and their horn shapes are also varied. Zulu King Shaka bred these cattle in different colour patterns to produce skins for his army�s several regiments. His personal guard and royal herd were pure white. The Zoo has a herd of 6 cattle being 2 cows, 2 bulls and 2 calves.

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