Scientific Classification

Common Name
ankole, watusi, African longhorn
Genus Species
Bos (ox) taurus (bull)

Fast Facts

Ankole are large cattle with long, thick horns, which can grow up to 1.8 m (6 ft.) long. They have a rusty red coast and may be solid in color or be speckled.
Height at shoulders 165 to 198 cm (5.5 to 6.6 ft)
Newborn calves weigh 4.7 to 6.75 kg (10.5 to 15 lbs.).
Male: 450 to 720 kg (1,000 to 1,600 lbs.)
Female:  405 to 540 kg (900 to 1,200 lbs.)
Ankole are grazers and feed on grass.
Gestation lasts approximately 9 months; one offspring per birth.
Sexual Maturity
About 18 months
Life Span
More than 20 years
Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, and in Eastern Africa
Open forests, grasslands, and meadows
Global: No data
IUCN: Not listed
CITES: Not listed
USFWS: Not listed

Fun Facts

  1. 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. 
  2. Ankole have strong herding and protection instincts. Adults bed down in a circle facing out with calves in the center.
  3. They 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 when food and water are scarce.
  4. In Africa, a few tribes consider ankole to be sacred animals.
  5. Some tribes mix the milk and blood of the Ankole to produce a high protein drink.
  6. 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.
  7. Ankole-Watusi meat has very little fat and lower cholesterol than other commercial beef.
  8. Ankole cattle have tremendous jumping ability for their large size.
  9. They may occasionally fall prey to lions and leopards.

Ecology and Conservation

Traditionally, Ankole cattle provided fresh milk but were rarely used a source of meat. Overall wealth was actually measured by the number of live animals in their possession. 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, governmental authorities have attempted to select individuals that produce more milk and meat. Famine and disease, as well as the conflict with traditional practices, have slowed this effort. 


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.

Woburn Safari Park – Ankole Cattle Species Profile
Downloaded 10 October 2018.