What’s a breed?

I have been discussing this topic recently with my friends and learned colleagues in India. It came out that there actually never has been a scientific breed survey in the country and that basically India’s breed classification dates back to colonial times. It was always assumed a priori that only 20% of livestock belongs to a specifc breed and that the rest is non-descript. No wonder then, that new breeds are coming to light now and then. For instance the NGO Lokhit Pashu-Palak Sansthan (LPPS) reported about Malvi camel and Nari cattle sometime ago. Then Sahjeevean, an NGO based in Kutch (Gujarat), managed to get the Banni buffalo breed officially recognized. Now, they have identified another breed, the Kharai camel, that swims to and lives off the mangroves on the coast.
Getting a “new” breed recognised is a major effort, requiring lots of genetical studies to confirm that the breed is indeed unique. But it seems to me this approach needs to be streamlioned, especially if there apparently never was a real breed survey and the existing classification is based on more or less anecdotal evidence.

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