The zebu is a humped ox. It has descended from the ancestor of current breeds of cattle domesticated 10 000 years ago throughout the Indian peninsula. It was then introduced to Africa, Australia, Central America and Latin America where, through a series of selections, it hasnow become part of a booming, intensive farming industry.
In India, Hindus regard the zebu as a sacred animal and farmers consider it an excellent worker. It is especially valued for its milk and by-products.
As Madagascar’s emblem and once a symbol of royalty, the zebu is part of every stage of Malagasy life. Throughout life, from birth to death, the redistribution, consumption, gift-giving and offerings of zebu meat and products are all actions which serve as a link between the living and their ancestors, between the natural and the supernatural.
The zebu is also a prestigious animal for the Fulani and the Maasai, two African ethnic groups. The size of the herd shows a family’s status.
To address global warming, Swiss breeders plan to increase the number of zebu cattle in their livestock. This animal produces good quality meat, it is resistant to a large number of diseases, its milk yield does not diminish in high temperatures and it can calve even in hot weather.