Scibraai Monday Menu #3: Nguni cattle, jackal and emergency numbers


This week’s look at a few new South African research papers takes into account how local men think about themselves when they have breast cancer, the genetics of Nguni cattle, a black-backed jackal that roamed 150km wide and calls to emergency numbers.


Having breast cancer does little to a man’s masculinity

South African male breast cancer patients’ perception of their own masculinity is not affected by them having a cancer commonly seen in women. That is the findings of researchers of the University of the Witwatersrand and Right to Care, published in the American Journal of Men’s Health.

Most male breast cancer patients sampled did not perceive the breast cancer diagnosis as affecting their masculinity. The researchers did find that Black men and those treated in government hospitals were less likely to be aware of male breast cancer, and were more likely to have their perception of their own masculinity affected.

Reference: Rayne, S. (2016) Male Breast Cancer Has Limited Effect on Survivor’s Perceptions of Their Own Masculinity: A Record Review and Telephone Survey of Patients in Johannesburg, South Africa, American Journal of Men’s Health


Emergency calls: when seconds count

Emergency calls made to medical or rescue services are often a matter of life and death. Every second counts. That’s why the first few sentences that an operator utters can be so important. Researchers from the University of the Witwatersrand and the University of Groningen analysed the greeting sequences of 105 calls to a South African emergency service. They found that using a specific two-part opening sequence can make a call up to four seconds shorter.

Reference: Penn, C. et al (2016). When seconds count: A study of communication variables in the opening segment of emergency calls, Journal of Health Psychology


Black-backed jackal: where do they roam in KZN?

A paper in African Zoology features research on the habitat use and home range of black-backed jackals on farms in KwaZulu-Natal. Researchers from the University of KwaZulu-Natal collared and monitored five jackals in the Midlands region. Over two seasons, one of the adult males travelled at least 150km before settling permanently in a specific home range. Adult jackal preferred croplands in spring, summer and autumn but avoided croplands in winter. Variable habitat use and large home ranges confirms that black-backed jackal is able to adapt to living in agricultural areas.

Reference: Humphries, BD. (et al). Habitat use and home range of black-backed jackals, African Zoology


Taking a closer look at Nguni cattle genetics

Inbreeding isn’t much of a worry at this stage when it comes to the different groupings of Nguni cattle found in South Africa. This is the results of an MSc study in Animal Science by Yandisiwe Patience Sanarana at the University of Pretoria.

The Nguni cattle breed is an important indigenous animal genetic resource that is well-adapted to different ecological regions in South Africa. Nguni cattle differ phenotypically in terms of body frame, size of ears, coat colour, horn and head shape. These differences have resulted in the recognition of five major ecotypes within the breed.

The results of this study can be applied for the genetic conservation of Nguni cattle.

Reference: Sanarana, Y.P. (2015). Genetic characterization of South African Nguni cattle ecotypes using microsatellite markers, MSc study in Animal Sciences


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