PKFokam Journal of Science and Technology

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Factors affecting the global diffusion of an African animal genetic resource

Research Article

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Factors affecting the global diffusion of an African animal genetic resource: the case study of the Cameroon Blackbelly sheep

Meka zibi II. M.A*., Meutchieye. F*., Ntsoli. J., Tadakeng Y., Fonteh .F
Department of Animal Science, FASA; University of Dschang P.O. Box 188, Dschang Cameroon


Sheep farming is a vital component in the food, economic and socio-cultural security of many countries around the world. Sheep are present in most countries of the world, proving their adaptation capacities to different climatic conditions and agro-ecological zones in different countries. Because of these capabilities, they have been widely disseminated in order to enhance their genetic potential. Several elements have contributed to the diversification and dissemination of this biodiversity, including the human slave trade waves. During these movements, Cameroon ovine biodiversity has been exported and distributed throughout the world, particularly the Blackbelly sheep breed. Within the framework of the World Action Plan focusing on the characterization of native biodiversity, it is important to trace the dispersal routes and models of this particular breed across the world in order to demonstrate the impact of slave trade in the dissemination of animal material, but also to collect information on the ways of adaptation and exploitation of the Blackbelly sheep around the world. This could enable the conservation and better improvement of this genetic resource in Cameroon for the benefit of population. From publications collected on the matter around the world, it appears that slave trade and the triangular trades were the main factors of global diffusion of the Cameroon Blackbelly sheep. The Blackbelly has been spread in two continents: America and Europe, but its main settling area was the Caribbean. The Barbaric Island was the main point of adaptation of this breed hence the name Barbados Blackbelly from which several countries have refueled. The Blackbelly sheep has been adopted as an official breed after improvement in 4 countries: Barbaric Island (Barbados Blackbelly), the United States (American Blackbelly), Germany (Kamerun Schafe), and in Martinique (Martinik Sheep). All these varieties share some specific features that have remained very close to that of the sheep of Cameroon notably: the brown coat color with a blackbelly, resistance to diseases (trypano-tolerant), hardy, and prolific. Worldwide, the Blackbelly sheep is exploited for meat, leather, prestige, ecotourism and milk in some extent. The current state of information on Blackbelly in Cameroon is limited to descriptive study and some phenotypic assessment. In-depth studies on its mode of exploitation and its molecular genetics will certainly allow better understanding of this breed to plan for methods of conservation and sustainable improvement.

Key words: Blackbelly sheep, colonization, international trade, biodiversity, Cameroon

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