Tropical ruminants are usually associated with small size (cattle, goats, elephants, rhinos, etc) whereas temperate and arid ruminants are bigger in size. But herein lies the paradox, our gaur or seladang is the biggest, heaviest and most powerful wild cattle in the world. Our seladang is even bigger than the extinct aurochs. Auroch is the ancestor to all modern cows (Bos Taurus) in Europe and Americas. While seladang is the ancestor to Asian or tropical cattle, the zebu (bos indicus). Before trying to explain the paradox, we will see some characters of seladang or gaur.
The gaur prefers browsing to grazing, like a goat.
The gaur browses at early morning and late evening, resting under shade in the noon. Early morning and late evening are the favorite time of parasites and worms to go out, looking for host.
The gaur love marshes, swamp and ponds, like a buffalo. This type of area has the most amounts of parasites, worms and mosquitoes.
The gaur prefers browsing under shade, reducing the effect of heat stress
Incredible! Our gaur lives right in the middle of super high level concentration of worms, parasites and mosquitoes yet our gaur managed to be the heaviest and most powerful of wild cattle. Our gaur is bigger than the bison from the great plains of America and our gaur is bigger than the yak and wildebeest from the great savannah of Africa.
"From the darkest and hardest of places, the star will be born."
"Great personalities are born during the dark hours of civilization and humanity"
"Opportunities arise during crisis"
Let these quotes sink into our mind first.
Obviously our gaur has developed incredible resistance and resilience to parasites and diseases of the tropics. This level of resistance has allow the gaur to grow massively and endowed with great strength. I can validate this through my own experience with my goats. I started with 4 local cross does, their weight around 20 – 25kg. Small size and in very poor condition (as always happen with new breeder). Over time, with the right dewormer and deworming techniques, coupled with good nutrition, their progenies grow bigger in size and heavier in weights.
IMPORTANT: I do not recommend relying heavily on dewormer as resistance will build up. If we use mass deworming every 3 months, it's considered relying heavily. The best way to control parasite is through genetic improvement by a process we call intensive selection. The alternative will be genetic engineering.
If meat goat breeders in the tropics make disease and parasite resistance trait as the focus in improving their herds, they will be pleasantly surprised by the result. Survival rate will go up and cost of medicine goes down. Herd productivity improves tremendously. The goats will be robust, healthy and reproduce nicely. Good for breeders who needs profitability; good for the government who is struggling to provide food to its citizen; good for the consumer who want healthy meat in their diet; good for the environment since local produces reduce carbon footprints. These are achievable only if we, the breeders choose local breeds as the base herd. Just like our gaur, the unsung local hero.
It is also very important to remember that excessive focus on any trait be it parasite resistance, reproduction rate, or fast weight gain is counter productive. Why?
Recall the shrinking sheep mystery that I have posted. The study found out that smaller sheep reproduce faster while bigger sheep reproduce slower. Now the gaur is parasite and disease resistant, and has very fast weight gain rate but very slow reproduction rate. The gaur population grows so slowly that it stands on the brink of extinction.
Can you see something here?
For any given trait we want to pursue, some traits must be compensated. Just like a F1 racecar which is super fast but not comfortable, a Rolls Royce is comfortable but not super fast.
GOD GIVES US LIMITED DESIGN POINTS.
When God creates species including goats,cattle,dogs and cats He also gives mankind some points. He told us to use our intelligence and create whatever breeds that we want or fancy but with a limit of points. For example, lets say God gives 100 points for each species. We create a milk breed which give us great amount of milk but very little meat. (80 points for milk and 20 points for meat). Or we create a meat breed which gives us lots of meat but very little milk (80 points for meat and 20 points for milk).
See? We would never make a super breed that will be adaptable to all corners of the earth. We must incorporate balance, purpose and local environment consideration whenever we mankind attempt to design breeds. All creatures created by God are like that. We have created thousands of breeds; each has its own role and purpose. Variations in species are important for the continuing survival of that species. And goats are cast far and wide to almost every corner of the earth, much more distributed than cattle, making them more survivable if catastrophes happen.
A super breed is a disaster waiting to happen. Climate change is a fact. Natural disaster is a fact. Disease is a fact. Catastrophes are a fact. No single super breed can withstand all these. It is too risky for the survival of the species. That is why I do not support cloning even though I support genetic engineering. That is why we must protect and appreciate the local breeds. That is why we must protect our biodiversity so that we ourselves as human being can survive if catastrophes happen.
God indeed is an intelligent designer.