Ankole Vatusi bulls with long round horns look very impressive. The breed of these bulls is very ancient, more than 6 thousand years old.
Among the representatives of the cow class, these bulls have a special title, they are called "bulls, kings." Locals often call them simply “ankole”, but in Russian the second part of the name “vatussi” is more used.
What did the tour look like?
12 thousand years ago, the height of wild males was 2 m, and the weight was 1 ton. Over time, they became smaller. The remains of a tour over 6 thousand years old were found in Derbshir cave, after which scientists from 6 institutes and universities in the UK and Ireland analyzed the genetic material. As a result, the complete sequence of the animal's metochondrial DNA was first obtained.
Beautiful powerful and majestic wild bulls had strong horns up to 1 m long, bending in the shape of a lyre and directed forward. A ferocious animal could pierce a person through them, knock them down and trample them with their hoofs. The females were reddish brown, and the males had an almost black color with light stripes along the ridge, characteristic of wild animals. A shoulder hump stood out, the front part of the body is more developed than the back. The wild ancestor of the cow had longer legs, a narrow, slightly elongated face with a depressed forehead, the udder of females was completely covered with hair and less noticeable.
Beautiful powerful and majestic wild bulls had strong horns up to 1 m long, bending in the shape of a lyre and directed forward
The wild bull tour has lived in Europe, the Caucasus, North Africa and Asia Minor for thousands of years. The animals lived in herds, in which the female dominated, or alone. They ate, like all herbivores, foliage and grass, extracting shoots from under the snow in winter. Scientists suggest that the southern individuals were smaller and not so obstinate compared to the northern ones. People began to domesticate them about 9 thousand years ago. Tamed animals survived. At first they were used only for meat and as a force of impurity. They moved around the Earth with people, spreading beyond their natural ranges. As a result of the mutation, the physique was made easier and gradually they began to differ from the wild ancient bull.
In the 1920s and 30s, German scientists tried to recreate an extinct animal by crossing the cattle back. The result was a hake bull. It differs in size and color from the tour. In our time, such experiments are carried out by scientists from Holland and Poland.
Gallery: animal tour and its descendants (25 photos)
Descendants of the tour
There are several domestic bull breeds resembling a tour. The closest to it is a gray Ukrainian breed, the weight of bulls reaches 800-850 kg (maximum -1100 kg), and cows - 450-500 kg. Distributed from the Caspian Sea and the Volga region to Spain and Portugal.
What does a bull look like in this breed? It is distinguished by well-developed muscles and high withers. Color gray or light gray. The bulls have dark, dark black horns on the chest and legs. So far, the properties that distinguish the wild ancestors of a cow are inherent in color: wool changes color depending on the season. 100 years ago, they were used as a force of gravity. With good care, a gray Ukrainian cow can give per day up to 20 liters of milk with a fat content of 5-8%. This breed has a good immunity: in the middle of the last century it was not affected by the plague and tuberculosis epidemics, which brought down cattle.
There are several domestic bull breeds resembling a tour.
The descendant of the tour is a bull watusi, has the largest horns of all cattle breeds. Their length reaches 1.5-2 m, the girth at the base is on average 45 cm, the distance between their ends is more than 2 m. They are longer in a cow, can be in the shape of a crescent or a lira, in bulls they are directed to the sides. Watusi horns can weigh 40 kg each. Their main value for animals is thermostatic properties, which helps them to withstand the African heat. Its historical homeland is Rwanda, Kenya, Birundi. The color of the watus bull is the same as that of the cows and calves of his ancestor, but not of the male tours. The weight of adults can reach 400-700 kg.
Attempts to revive tours do not stop. Genetic zoologists cross different breeds, but it has not yet succeeded in breeding animals of the same size as the extinct wild bull.
The main distinguishing feature of Watusi is his horns. If you remove this incredible size decoration, in front of us will appear that very familiar cow from childhood. But when the head of a ruminant animal is adorned with solid outgrowths from 1.5 to 3.5 m long and almost half a meter in length at the base, such a sight cannot but impress.
Vatussi, like the domestic cows, are descendants of extinct wild tours (Bos taurus), the last representative of which lived to 1627. It is believed that it was Vatussi who retained the maximum similarity with his primitive ancestor.
But back to the horns, the main decoration of the breed. The most valuable are the watusi, whose “crown” has a cylindrical or lyre shape, and, of course, the longer the horns, the more expensive their carrier is. However, the animal wearing such beauty is worth a lot of effort, because it weighs an average of about 80 kg, diverging to the side by more than 2 m.
By the way, one of its names is connected with the distinctive feature of this descendant of the wild tour. In Rwanda, this species is sometimes called "inyambo", which means "cow with very long horns." Another local name for the long-horned bull is “insago”, which in the language of the Tutsi tribe means “once found”.
"Vatussi" these animals are called in Burundi and Rwanda (from the name of one of the local Tutsi tribes), but in Uganda, the ethnic composition of which is largely represented by the ankole, wild cows with long horns are called, respectively, "ankole."
East Africa, the territory of present-day Rwanda, Burundi and Kenya, is the historic homeland of watusi or ankole. It is believed that wild tours came here from the Nile River no less than two thousand years before Christ: animals with characteristic huge horns can be seen in the plots of wall paintings of ancient Egypt.
There is a version that, in addition to the wild tours, the humpbacked bulls of zebu (Bos taurus indicus), once spread in India and Pakistan and migrating to Africa, starting from Ethiopia and Somalia, took part in the formation of modern ankole-vatusi. historical period as tours from Egypt.
In the 60s of the last century, the long-horned bulls were brought to America and, thanks to their excellent adaptability, quickly spread throughout almost the entire territory of the New World. In Europe, ankole can be found, for example, on the Crimean peninsula, as well as in the famous Ukrainian reserve Askania-Nova, located in the Kherson region. Surprisingly, the huge horns of the watusi serve the animal not only for protection against predators, but also for thermoregulation. Thanks to this seemingly cumbersome and inconvenient decoration, the animal is able to easily endure the fifty-degree heat.
It turns out that the hollow inside, horny growths of a bull have a huge number of blood vessels. The blood passing through them is cooled by the flow of air, then re-enters the body, ensuring a decrease in its temperature due to an increase in heat transfer. Here is such an unusual system of thermoregulation, very useful in the African savannah.
It is not surprising that the carriers of the largest horns were considered by the local tribes as the most valuable, because these individuals are the most enduring. Such bulls used to be included in the royal herd and even revered as sacred animals.
In fairness, it is worth noting that this technology did not always produce its fruits, and the youngstock that was on a starvation diet often died before reaching puberty. And yet, for such African tribes as Tutsi, Ankole, Maasai, Bashi, Bakhima, Kigezi, Kivu and others, Watussi have been the most important animals from an economic point of view for many centuries.
Lifestyle and behavior
Ankole-vatusi (Americans write the name of this animal with one letter “c” - ankole-watusi) lives in wild nature in open territories - in savannas, steppes or fields.
Despite their frightening appearance, these bulls have a very calm character, which is not surprising: the hot climate, in which these hoofed animals live, combined with a heavy burden on the head, does not contribute to fussiness and excessive activity.
At the same time, powerful hooves allow animals to overcome fairly long distances in search of food, and even develop quite a decent cruising speed. It should be noted that, if necessary, ankole may well stand up for himself and even display the aggressiveness characteristic of all males of this family. And yet the huge dimensions and deadly horns make the vatussi almost invulnerable to any of the African predators, so these animals have practically no natural enemies capable of withstanding open combat, and therefore there are not too many reasons for ankole to be angry.
The domesticated representatives of the breed are completely tame and are happy to put their sides to scratch them. In the mating season, horns become a real and formidable weapon, which the males actively use during ritual fights, finding out which member of the herd is the strongest and has the right to the attention of the female.
What to eat
As you know, cows are herbivores, and in Africa, where historically lived Vatussi, the flora is represented rather poorly. Considering that a huge descendant of a wild tour needs at least 100 kg of grass per day (a cow can manage with a more modest dose of 50–70 kg), the only way to survive for ankola is the ability to digest literally any food that you can only get. And, indeed, the digestive system of the vatussi is designed so that the animal can digest even the most scarce and coarse food, sucking out of it all the nutrients that one can.
Such omnivorous and unpretentiousness, combined with the ability for quite a long time to do without water, and allowed the descendants of wild tours not only to survive their predecessors, but also to spread over vast territories, conquering new countries and continents.
Vatussi, unlike his extinct ancestor, has a fairly strong genetics and ability to preserve its own kind. Sexual maturity in calves and calves occurs almost simultaneously: at the age of 6–9 months, approximately in the same period, in 4–10 months, full sexual behavior begins to manifest itself.
Gobies are ready for mating at any time, however, in chicks, the ability to conceive and bear offspring is directly related to the sexual cycle. The best time for marriage games is the beginning of the rainy season, which in Africa begins in March and ends in May. The gestation period for all cows lasts 9–11 months (from 270 to 300 days).
Vatussi are very caring and attentive parents, however, the main role in protecting hornless and defenseless calves belongs to the males. At night, when the likelihood of a sudden attack by a hungry predator reaches its maximum, the babies are protected by the powerful horns of the male part of the herd. In the evening, the bulls drive all the calves into a dense pile, while they themselves are laid around the ring with horns exposed to the outside. Overcoming such a paling, without waking a huge male and not getting acquainted with his deadly weapon, is almost impossible.
Vatussi is an African bull with huge horns that retains maximum similarity to the wild tour, however, unlike its ancestor, it managed to adapt to the changing climate and not only preserve, but also significantly increase its numbers due to the conquest of new territories.