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Portraits of animals (almost) lost

The loss of hundreds of domestic species has undergone a major acceleration over the last few decades. Market rules have prompted farmers to select highly productive types neglecting other aspects such as the adaptability to the environment or the maternal attitude with the result that in the world we are now breeding intensively only a few dozens of species despite the many thousands selected over the years.

The numbers of domestic species used in agriculture threatened with extinction are impressive. According to FAO about 6400 species, belonging to 30 species among mammals and birds, are bred all over the world. Over 1300 species are at very high risk of extinction, namely there are less than 100 females and less than 5 males. The European scenario confirms these data: domestic species of mammals recorded in Europe represent 40% of the world total of which more than 500 have already disappeared while as many are in a critical situation.

In our country, that has not only cultural and gastronomic traditions related to the wealth of its livestock heritage, but it also boasts landscapes and environments shaped by centuries of animal husbandry, barns, chicken coops, sheepfolds are now literally empty and 38 species of sheep, 24 of cattle, 22 of goats, 19 of horses, 10 of pigs, 10 of poultry and 7 of donkeys are at risk of disappearing.

Among these, the small white Asinara’s donkey, of which there are still about 90 individuals in the wild on the Asinara island and in the forest of Porto Conte. Not to mention the last remaining 400 Girgentane goats with corkscrew-shaped long-horned reared for the production of milk used for “Tuma” cheese which is aged in plaster or stone crevices. Moreover the Garfagnina cattle with “frosted” coat and slate-coloured skin that include a population of only 145 head of cattle and last but not least the “Cabannina” species with only 200 left.

To be able to tell about this situation, I took in account some of the most endangered domesticated species in Italy. The images were treated as if they were old family pictures hung on walls covered with wallpaper in the house of an old lady where friends and relatives now disappeared, are living in memory thanks to an old framed photograph.
All these beautiful animals will run this same risk.

Emanuela Colombo

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