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What makes Cyril Ramaphosa’s Ankole cows so expensive? Here’s why

09 March 2022 - 11:51
The Ankole heifer sold for R2.1m by President Cyril Ramaphosa in this screenshot of the livestreamed auction.
The Ankole heifer sold for R2.1m by President Cyril Ramaphosa in this screenshot of the livestreamed auction.
Image: SWIFTVEE

The sale of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s Ankole cows for R2.1m has had many doing a double take and questioning the price tag. 

Ramaphosa’s Ntaba Nyoni cattle farm recently put 72 of his cows up for auction, including 16 prized Ankole cows. 

Ramaphosa’s brother-in-law Patrice Motsepe parted ways with R4.7m for four Ankole female cows. The most expensive of the lot cost him R2.1m.

What makes them so expensive? The Ankole breed is renowned for its lean meat and excellent milk quality, making it the most sought-after dual breed. 

They have majestic ivory-looking horns which point to the skies, and come in a various of shapes and sizes.

The breed’s horns are “honeycombed” and connected to airways which help the cattle to better regulate their body temperature. 

They are able to adapt to harsh and extreme weather conditions from cold and rainy to hot, dry desert climates, and can survive on less food and water.

The breed is believed to have been introduced to east and central Africa more than 600 years ago and today can be found in Uganda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda and parts of Tanzania.

Over the past six years, demand for Ankole cattle in SA has risen steadily and breeders have been paying eye-watering prices for top bulls and cows.

They are particularly popular among game breeders, who buy them as a tourist attraction and for hunting.

In his coffee table book, Cattle of the Ages, Ramaphosa said his love of the cows runs deep and was to fulfil his father’s legacy and instil a new pride for South Africans in these remarkable cattle.

“They each had long, white, beautiful horns glinting in the African sun, and I suddenly became fixated and couldn’t stop looking at them. I was intrigued and in awe and fell in love with these creatures immediately,” said Ramaphosa. 


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