The Livestock Diversity – A Bio-Cultural Treasure of the Rural Balochistan


Balochistan – The cradle of livestock breeds

Balochistan is the largest province of the country by area and the majority of its populace lives in rural and remote areas. The major source of income among the rural and remote dwellers is livestock rearing. About 90% of the provincial land is comprised of rangeland. These rangelands provide feed and shelter to wide diversified livestock breeds of the province. These rangelands are owned by tribes, and the only use is livestock production.

The major ecosystems and Livestock diversity of Balochistan

The precious livestock breeds are well adapted to the diversified ecological zones of the province. The livestock breeds are multipurpose and fulfill a wide range of needs of the livestock keepers. On the basis of livestock production systems, penology, topography, and climate the province can be divided into six ecological zones stated as;

  • Coastal ecosystem
  • Deserted rangelands
  • Highlands of the northern Balochistan
  • Suleiman mountainous region
  • Central Brahvi highlands
  • Pat or Plainland of Kachhi basin
Gossali sheep of Zhob, northeastern Balochistan

The livestock diversity

The breeds of livestock in Balochistan are categorized on the basis of communities/cultures, ecosystems, and the breeding goal/s of a breed. I do not claim that this work is done completely, maybe some genetic resources are still hiding from our eyes as the region is very far and wide and some areas are very inaccessible.

A portrait of a Khorasani goat with a nomadic woman
A portrait of a Khorasani goat with a nomadic woman
No.Livestock speciesNumber of breedsName of breeds
1Sheep11Kakari, Thorghuazi/waziri, Baberi/Gosali, Kajalle, Mangeli, Pahwali/Bore, Musakhaili, Bybrigh, Balochi, Dumeri/Hernai, Kharani/desert
2Goat5Khorasani, Kamori, Kohesuleimani, Berberi, and Morak
3Camel8Kakari/Raigi, Gaddai/Pahwali, Kohi, Lassi, Brahvi, Kharani, Rodbari, and Jathnasal/Brela
4Cattle4Khoesuleimani/Lohani, Kakari, Bhagnarri, Red Sindhi
5Donkey3Lassi, Shingharri, and Piddie/Sperki
6Horses2Pahwali and Balochi
7Dogs2Afghan Shephard (an offshoot of Turkmen dog), and local crosses
8Chicken2Native and Aseel
Breeds of the livestock in Balochistan

These native livestock breeds not only provide a source of livelihood but also play a role as companions and family members. Livestock breeds are evolved with precious indigenous knowledge, therefore a threat to the breeds is a threat to the indigenous knowledge. The local animal genetic resources are part of the socio-cultural life of the keepers. Many traditions and customary laws articulate around the livestock breeds.

Khohe Suleimani or Lohani cattle, Musakhail Balochistan
Khohe Suleimani or Lohani cattle, Musakhail Balochistan

Breeds’ status and possible threats

Though apparently there is no threat to the animal genetic resources of the province, moreover some camel breeds, i.e. Kharani, Raigi, and to some extent Lassi are under threat. Brahvi camel of central highlands of the province is almost lost and very rare herds can be found. Still, there are major problems and issues, which can be a threat to such precious animal genetic resources in the long run of the time period.

Kharani camel of Balochistan
Kharani camel, a good milking camel.

The major issue is the deforestation and removal of the vegetation cover. The second most important issue is the social changes in the life of the livestock keepers due to interventions in their production systems and around them, i.e. expanding but nonsustainable agriculture. Epidemic diseases also cause a great threat to the livestock breeds of the region and in recent years PPR and abortion caused havoc losses. The province is the crossroad of the Afghan nomads who cross the province two times a year and introduce many epidemic diseases in the region. They brought some diseases from the livestock of central Asia, like PPR and  Crimean-Congo Haemorrhagic Fever (CCHF). The Government’s support and interest are very rare for livestock keepers. The livestock keepers as in the other parts of the world are neglected and there is no share of livestock keepers in the research and development policies of the province.

Mangeli sheep breed of Balochistan
Maingali or Mangeli sheep of central Balochistan

A Comprehensive research approach and the true worth of the livestock diversity

A comprehensive approach is required to uncover the true potential of the breeds keeping in mind all the drivers (environmental, production potential, and adaptation), especially the qualitative traits which support the pillars of livestock sustainability in the climate change context. As well as, social systems and changes in the lifestyle of the livestock keepers’ communities are very important to study.

Bybrak or Beuragh sheep of Balochistan. The breed is also called Marriwal
Bybrak or Beuragh sheep of Balochistan. The breed is also called Marriwal

The traditional livestock breeders always needed support from the state and development organizations. Climate change has pushed them to a very miserable status, therefore they need even more support than before. As per their customary and constitutional rights, they must be supported to keep their traditional lifestyle viable. Their livestock production system is not only a precious heritage but produces more than 80 % of the food requirement (animal products) of the province. Though they are being supported to some level which is not enough. They really need very strong and systematic support, especially protecting their grazing lands, revegetation of the rangeland, disease control, market access, representation in legal/constitutional bodies, and their involvement in the policies related to farming and agriculture.

The author is riding a white Balochi horse in Musakhail
The author is riding a white Balochi horse in Musakhail

International support for the native livestock breeders

The traditional livestock breeds are not only legible for domestic support but also come under the domain of the very important international treaties. Pakistan has signed many important international conventions and treaties, i.e. SDGs, MDGs, CBD, UNCCD, Right of Indigenous people, Climat Change, and Global plan of action on animal genetic resources for food and agriculture, hence it is necessary to respect these conventions and abide by the rights of native/traditional livestock keepers. The NGOs sector can help in the mobilization of the livestock keepers for breeds associations, demonstration plots of reforestation of local varieties of vegetation, training for animal health and care, documenting of the indigenous knowledge, and liaising for their rights.

Shingharri or big neck donkey in Northeastern Balochistan
Shingharri or big neck donkey in Northeastern Balochistan

Suggestions for further reading

2 thoughts on “The Livestock Diversity – A Bio-Cultural Treasure of the Rural Balochistan

  1. Andrew Boku January 24, 2012 / 2:18 pm

    When do you have conference or festival or a show about the topic of camel and biodiversity? I wish to visit Pakistan.

    Like

    • raziqkakar January 24, 2012 / 2:19 pm

      you are welcome. I shall let you know for sure.

      Like

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