Nguni Breeders Society of Namibia

The origin of Sanga cattle

The indigenous cattle of Southern Africa are collectively known as Sanga. Ecotypes of Sanga are the Nguni(South Africa), Bapedi(Lesotho), Nkone & Mashona(Zimbabwe), Landim(Mozambique), Tswana(Botswana) and the Sanga of Namibia. The Afrikaner, Bonsmara, Drakensberger and Tuli could also be classified as Sanga or Sanga phenotypes.
The term Sanga is therefore used to describe cattle of Southern Africa. These cattle have a typical cervico-thoracic hump, lyre shaped horns with a cylindrical core. Their body profile indicates to the possible inheritance between the laterally horned animals with the hump on the neck and the shorthorn Brachyceros with no hump and it’s heritage from Europe.

Chromosome studies showed that Sanga cattle has the same submetacentric Y-chromosome as Bos Taurus cattle. This is contrary to the acrocentric Y-chromosome usually find in Bos Indicus cattle. Due to the anatomical, physiological and adaptability of the breed it was lately classified as bos taurus africanus.

The earliest evidence of cattle in Africa exists in north-west Africa, nowadays Niger, some 7000 years ago. The Sanga however appeared to have originated about 1600 BC in the Ethiopia/Somalia region. Whatever the origins of Sanga cattle, they migrated South through Africa with their nomadic owners. The migration was not easy as they had to cross the most cattle-diseased affected areas in the world. It is believed that the Tsetse belt was crossed just west of the Victoria Falls. The Sanga finally entered Southern Africa some 500 years BC.