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Supporting conservation of livestock biodiversity through multidisciplinary studies: a case study of the Yakutian cattle in Siberia, the far east of Russia

  • M.-H. Li (a1), A. Osva (a2) and J. Kantanen (a1)

Summary

The Society for Conservation Biology has highlighted the vital importance of social sciences in animal conservation. For farm animals, their close association with humans over many centuries makes it more sensible and necessary to incorporate social sciences and humanity studies into the conservation efforts. In this review, we report a multidisciplinary study for the conservation of a unique native cattle population, the Yakutian cattle, which are the last remnants of the Turano-Mongolian Bos taurus cattle from Siberia, the far east of Russia. These cattle, which are well adapted to the severe climate and environmental conditions in the northeast Siberian territory, are gaining popularity as a hardy, adapted and useful genetic resource, particularly when man is facing the challenge of global climate change. However, the population is categorized by the FAO as “rare and endangered”. Our multidisciplinary collaborative study has proved to be successful through animal genetics, anthropology, geography, history, sociology and bio-art, and could be applied also in developing conservation programmes for other livestock, wild animals or plants.

La Société pour la biologie de la conservation a mis l'accent sur l'importance capitale des sciences sociales dans la conservation des animaux. Pour les animaux d'élevage, en raison des relations étroites entretenues pendant plusieurs siècles avec les êtres humains, il est encore plus logique et nécessaire d'intégrer les sciences humaines et sociales au sein des initiatives concernant leur conservation. Nous présentons dans ce rapport une étude multidisciplinaire sur la conservation d'une population unique de bovins locaux, les Yakut, qui sont les derniers descendants des bovins Bos taurus du type Turano-Mongolian de la Sibérie, l'Extrême-Orient russe. Ces bovins, qui sont bien adaptés aux conditions climatiques et environnementales rigides du territoire nord-oriental de la Sibérie, sont de plus en plus appréciés en tant que ressources génétiques résistantes, adaptées et utiles, surtout lorsqu'on est confronté au défi du changement climatique mondial. Cependant, la FAO a classé cette population comme «rare et menacée d'extinction». Notre étude multidisciplinaire et participative s'est avérée précieuse dans les domaines de la génétique animale, de l'anthropologie, de la géographie, de l'histoire, de la sociologie et du bio-art. Elle pourrait être également appliquée à l'élaboration des programmes de conservation pour d'autres animaux d'élevage, pour les animaux sauvages et pour les plantes.

La sociedad para la Conservación biológica ha destacado la vital importancia de las ciencias sociales en la conservación animal. La estrecha vinculación con el ser humano de los animales de granja, a lo largo de muchos siglos, hace que sea mucho más razonable y necesaria la incorporación de las ciencias sociales y los estudios de la humanidad en los esfuerzos llevados a cabo en materia de conservación. En esta revisión, se presenta un estudio multidisciplinario para la conservación de una población única de ganado bovino autóctono, el Yakutian, que representa los últimos restos del bovino Turano-Mongolian Bos taurus de Siberia, en el Lejano Oriente de Rusia. Estos animales, bien adaptados a climas y condiciones medioambientales extremas del territorio del noroeste de Siberia, están ganando popularidad como recurso genético resistente, adaptado y útil, sobre todo en la medida en que el hombre se enfrenta al reto del cambio climático en todo el mundo. Sin embargo, la población está clasificada por la FAO como “poco común y en peligro de extinción”. Nuestro estudio de colaboración multidisciplinaria ha demostrado tener éxito por medio de la combinación de la genética animal, la antropología, la geografía, la historia, la sociología y el bio-arte, y podría aplicarse también en el desarrollo de programas de conservación para otro tipo de ganado, para animales salvajes y para plantas silvestres.

Copyright

Corresponding author

Correspondence to: Juha Kantanen, ET-Building, Biotechnology and Food Research, MTT Agrifood Research Finland, FI-31600 Jokioinen, Finland. email: juha.kantanen@mtt.fi

References

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