Choosing the "cargo" for Noah's Ark - Applying Weitzman's approach to Borana cattle in East Africa
If Noah had had the opportunity to select the animals he took on board his Ark, he would have had to choose between many species, breeds and types within breeds, all containing different genetic material. How could he have made the right choice and which would he have taken on board given the constraints he had to face? Those trying to save threatened livestock breeds within a tight conservation budget face similar questions. In this paper we assess how different types of Borana cattle, a culturally significant breed in East Africa, might be prioritized for conservation. By applying a cost-effectiveness analysis on the basis of Weitzman's approach we conclude that the highest priority should be given to the Ethiopian Borana type (EB) in Ethiopia. Noah, however, would also have been concerned about the problems of inbreeding and effective population size. To overcome this problem we suggest that, rather than loading just two animals, he should have loaded on board 1000 female and 100 male animals as a safe minimum. The minimum cost of conserving 1100 animals of the EB type with the participation of Ethiopian communities is calculated to be [euro]7700 per year, mostly in the form of compensation payments to meet the opportunity costs of livestock-keepers that arise when maintaining the EB.
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