Allen Guest Blogs from Africa III
Livestock Expo in Dakar.
Fauve de Bourgogne rabbit breed.
Allen and the breeder of Fauve de Bourgogne.
Two weeks ago, an advertisement on TV, in Wolof, grabbed my attention. The program advertised the weekend’s livestock expo in Dakar. I could hardly believe what I was seeing! You can imagine that the next morning, I piled my Senegalese family into a taxi, and went exploring. Above all, I was surprised to see Dakar hosting a livestock expo. After all, most people don’t have enough money to feed themselves; how can they feed exposition animals?
The Livestock Expo, 2nd ever held in Senegal’s history, was an expo in a more commercial setting. With the Muslim holiday of Tabaski coming in near weeks, showing off sacrificial animals found precedent at the show. Hundreds of sheep, several cows, a few chickens... and yes, even rabbits found their way to the expo. Everything was for sale, but breeders were excited to display their animals for the “oows” and “ahhs” from those in attendance as well. The primary animal used for Tabaski sacrifice is a ram, with a cow being second in importance, followed thirdly by a camel. Yes, even camels are a way of life in Africa. Over the weekend I met a Polish back-packer who was happy to have left Mauritania because he was sick of eating camel meat!
After viewing commercial vendor booths for medications, like IVOMEC, and feed milling, I heard my Senegalese mother yell, “Allen, Allen! Lapins!” Lapin, of course, is French for “rabbit”. Though not an animal used for Tabaski, a local breeder displayed 6 rabbits, mostly Fauve de Bourgogne. The breeder was as excited to speak to me as I was to speak to him! He told me it was the first time in Senegal’s history that rabbits have been displayed in such a setting. What are the chances that I study in Dakar, and find Senegal’s first rabbit show? Pretty cool stuff. He raises rabbits as a supplement to his income, but promised me if he had more rabbits and more cages, he could survive off of selling rabbits for meat. We exchanged phone numbers, made plans in the immediate future for a farm tour; and, to further conspire on the potentials of rabbits in Africa as a food source, supplement to income, and even fertilizer in rice farming.
Everyday I find discover new things in Senegal; even better when they involve rabbits!