The History of the Ankole-Watusi breed is long and distinguished. Its lineage can be traced to before 4000 B.C. as proved by rock paintings in the Sub-Sahara, the Egyptian and Meroetic pyramids, before the first pharaohs ruled Egypt and Kush, when a breed known as the Hamitic Longhorn (according to animal historians) now commonly known as Ankole-Watusi lived along the Nile particularly prevailing around the shores of lake Victoria and Tanganyika. The Breed found its way into ancient Egypt.Over the period of 3,000 years later, the cattle headed way east through Abyssinia  to Arabian peninsula after spreading west into ancient  Garama ( now Chad and Libya) and other parts of Africa. The majestic animal was a result of an African Buffalo Hybred with shorter extinct type of African Aurochs thousands of years ago and originated around the western shores of Lake Victoria in East Africa.

Debunking  general theory on  Ankole-Watusi Cattle’s Origin from India.

The twisted belief that the breed is originally a hybrid of Zebu from the Indian sub-continent, identifying it as a sub-specie Sanga cattle and therefore regarded as an intermediate type  formed by hybridizing the indigenous African humpless cattle with Zebu cattle allegedly brought in from India to Uganda  over 40,000 years ago is largely unfounded or lacks historical evidence; especially on how Indians  brought in the Zebu to  inland central Africa, bred it in Uganda forming the Sanga (Ankole-watusi) type and vanished back to Asia living the Cow to the benefit of Bahima and Batusi peoples is totally unlikely.

The Ankole-Watusi breed could be a hybrid of something else extinct (African Aurochs perhaps) with an African Buffalo or an original by itself considering the fact that, the first interaction of Asians and indigenous Central Africans did not take place until around 700 AD.The Breed is way too older to have  initially been introduced during that period.

The breeding process towards a Watusi produced the Zebu ( dominant in south East Asia,..which  is from Africa) and was henceforth cast for hard labor and economic tasks   and was taken to Asia  many centuries ago by  the Elamites for farming and transportation tasks and adopted by Dravidians in the Indus valley but not the other way round.The Ankole Watusi is exclusive in it’s appearance especially by it’s very long Horns.None of the other long horned Cows seen in Chad,Mali,Senegal,Ethiopia and even those painted on Egyptian walls project the exactness in similarity with  Cows found in Ankole.The intricacy of the shapes and lengths of their horns and the smooth hair on their skin and often fine dark brown,light brown,brown with white spots and black colors; are no exact correspondence with those Cows seen outside the great lakes of East Africa.Suggesting that those Sanga cows which were/or are found around and beyond tropic of Cancer and Capricorn are  sub Watusi breeds. The Watusi cows originated in the East African Savannah grasslands just like the African Buffalo,and in similar way other unique creatures like Giraffes,Elephants and Lion originated in those grasslands.

The Far East Asian humped Zebu has eventually shared and acquired genes from a native Bos frontalis sire of a Bovine family.Cows of this region are more closely related to Bisons and water Buffalos than the exclusive refined class of Watusi.

Debunking  theory of lower Egyptian origin of in the Breed.

This theory thrives on a construed notion that everything remarkable in Africa started from lower Egypt and not on a merit of Egyptians importing it from else where in Africa, these ideas arise because the only place on the continent where recorded history of ancient Africa managed to survive is largely on Egyptian monuments where also see pictographs of similar cattle.

Lower Egypt having been a desert area, there is no way  this cattle specie could have originated in a sandy desert environment but most likely around the source of the Nile where there is vast plains of lush vegetation and fresh water in fair climate making it possible for such a majestic Animal to have come about and thrived.The appearance of the cow shows a specie that stemmed from a much greener environmental area compared to general characteristics of desert animals such as Camels.

Ancient Egyptians and and north Africans traveled and traded back and forth in-land Africa in search for Animals for domestication and other animal based products such as leopard skins,tasks,bones,blood,meat,grains, medicinal herbs, frankincense ,spices,fruits, iron,gold, Lime stone and slaves and concubines.Paintings of East African birds such as cranes,ibis and animals such as Giraffes and Lions can be seen in ancient Egyptian art.Ancient people from the north of Africa i.e the Numidians,Garamantes and Egyptians traveled and interacted as far as the Zambezi river.It is during these early incidents of hunting and trading expeditions during pre-dynastic periods, that the breed was taken to Saharan Kingdoms and Ancient Egypt from sub Saharan grasslands (Savannah) and later earned a symbolical  reverence and worship among early Egyptians.They also regularly traveled from Egypt down south to the source of the  Nile in Uganda and around lake Tanganyika alternatively to offer  sacrifices to the  Nile Gods  and along several other positions on river’s journey north for its purification and flood inundation. Ancient Egyptians called the river Nile  “Iteru“. This in Rwanda and Burundi dialects is known as Iteru ry’umugyezi which means the  river that flows forth.

The Ankole-Watusi cattle in  Uganda, Rwanda , Burundi,Tanzania and Eastern Congo with their truly distinctive horns, are known around the world for their giant horns that can grow to eight feet in length.. ,in flat, circular or lyre shapes. These horns not only provide formidable defense against predators, but blood circulating through the honeycomb interior provides an efficient mechanism to cool the animal’s body temperature in a  hot climatic instances, just like a giant radiator.

In Uganda the Banyankole/ Banyoro-Hima-Hema  tribe’s variety is known as the Ente zenya-Ankole (ANKOLE CATTLE). In Rwanda and Burundi, the Tutsi-Nyamulenge tribe’s variety is called the Watusi(these involve of Inyambo and inkuku types) or Inka Ntutsi (WATUSI CATTLE). Culturally the animals that  grew the longest horns were reserved for the royalty, and are called “Cattle of Kings” for this reason. The true name of this breed of cattle is the Ankole-Watusi from Hima-Nyankole and Tutsi tribes they originated from.In other tales the cattle are associated with the ancient Cwezi people and the batembuzi who are thought to have been the cows breeders and distributors over time.

Ankole-Watusi cows are spectacular in all aspects.They are elegant and graceful.Other tribes that depend on these breed of cows are the Masai,Banyoro,Bahaya and the Itesots


The Ankole-Watusi are medium-sized cattle, with bulls weighing up to 1,600 pounds and cows up to 1,200 pounds, standing approximately six feet tall at the shoulder and are a very social breed. Watusi horns can reach 8 feet tip to tip and can have a base circumference of up to 28 inches.  Calves Newborn calves weigh just 30–50 pounds (14–23 kg) and remain small for several months

In East Africa, traditional wealth was measured in living heads of cattle.


The breed was/is sometimes regarded among Tutsi and Bahima tribes as sacred.Also in ancient Egyptian beliefs and contemporary Indo-religions.

The notion of a sacred cow is  relatively seen in ancient Egyptian Tenetian faith which is an animal husbandry based faith also practiced by ancient Elamites. It existed from Africa to Indus valley.

This practice also stems from 70,000 years ago when hunter gatherers learnt to herd wild  animals and eventual domestication of them.



Hitorical pictures/paintings of the breed

In predynastic Egypt, cows were associated to deities and can be seen held supreme in Egyptian and Kushitic art.
Royal Kubandwa ceremony

Zebus were taken from Africa to the Asian continent by Elamites and later adopted by Dravidians in the Indus valley.

Clearly a Zebu breed.It is from here that the zebu headed east to Asia.

About gakondo

East African History,Uganda,Rwanda,Burundi,Bunyoro-Kitara,Ankole,Karagwe,Buganda,Eastern Congo,Nubia, Ancient Nile river Kingdoms,Kush,Nile valley,Great Rift Valley,Eden garden,Kemet,Sumer,Ancient Congo
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