COMMON NAME: ankole, watusi, African longhorn
KINGDOM: Animalia
PHYLUM: Chordata
CLASS: Mammalia
ORDER: Artiodactyla
FAMILY: Bovidae
GENUS SPECIES: Bos (ox) taurus (bull)


DESCRIPTION: Ankole are large cattle with long, thick horns, which can grow up to 1.8 m (6 ft.) long.
SIZE: Height at shoulders 165-198 cm (5.5-6.6 ft)
WEIGHT: Newborn calves weigh 4.7-6.75 kg (10.5-15 lb.).
MALE 450-720 kg (1000-1600 lb.)
FEMALE 405-540 kg (900-1200 lb.)
DIET: Herbivore
GESTATION: Gestation lasts approximately 9 months; one offspring per birth.
SEXUAL MATURITY: About 18 months
LIFE SPAN: More than 20 years
RANGE: Africa
HABITAT: Open forests and meadows
STATUS: IUCN Not listed
CITES Not listed
USFWS Not listed


1. Ankole's have strong herding and protection instincts. Adults bed down in a circle facing out with calves in the center.
2. Some tribes people consider ankole to be sacred animals.
3. Ankole were first introduced to the United States in the 1960s from a small seed stock in European zoos. Exportation of ankole from Africa was banned in the 1930s. Today, less than 700 purebred ankoles are registered in the U.S.
4. Ankole were first domesticated in parts of Africa such as Uganda, Rwanda, and Kenya for thousands of years. These native cattle are adapted to survive several months without ample food and water.


In Uganda, the Nkole tribe's Sanga variety of these cattle is known as Ankole. In Rwanda and Burundi, the Tutsi tribe's Sanga variety is called the Watusi. The Rwanda common strain of Watusi is called Inkuku. The giant-horned strain, owned by the Tutsi kings and chiefs, is called the Inyambo, though some current tribal reports claim that this type is now extinct.

Traditionally, they supplied milk to their owners, but were only rarely used for meat production, since an owner's wealth was counted in live animals. Milk production was not high, with a typical cow producing only two pints of milk daily, although an exceptional one could manage up to eight pints. Over the last ten years, the national government has attempted to select for animals, which produce more milk and have better meat production. Famine and disease, as well as the conflict with traditional practices, have slowed this effort. Ankole-Watusi meat has very little fat and lower cholesterol than other commercial beef.


Parker, S. P. Grzimek's Encyclopedia: Mammals. Vol. 5, New York: McGraw-Hill Publishing Company, 1990.

Nowak, R. M. Walker's Mammals of the World Fifth Ed. Vol. II, Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1991.