The controversy over the Egyptian pig cull is turning very nasty.
There are estimated to be more than 300,000 pigs in Egypt, but the World Health Organisation says there is no evidence there of the animals transmitting swine flu to humans.
Pig-farming and consumption is concentrated in Egypt’s Coptic Christian minority, estimated at 10% of the population.
Many are reared in slum areas by rubbish collectors who use the pigs to dispose of organic waste. They say the cull will harm their businesses and has renewed tensions with Egypt’s Muslim majority.
The Domestic Animal Diversity Information System hosted by FAO records only one pig landrace in Egypt, called Egypt Baladi, from بلاد which just means land or soil. “Baladi” means something like “of this land”. The pig has a long history in Egypt, but I can’t find any information on its genetic affinities. If the total cull goes ahead, will a unique, ancient landrace be lost forever?