The Algerian Arab is a breed of sheep that is common in north-western Africa. Algerian Arab sheep are particularly common in Algeria, but are also found in neighboring countries of North Africa and south of the Sahara in parts of West Africa.
Algerian Arab sheep are also known by names Race Arabe, Raimbi. Rembi, Ouled Jellal, Hodna, Laghouat, Chellala, Taguine, Saida, Djebel-Amour, and Sidi-Aissa. South of the Sahara the most common variety of the Algerian Arab is the Macina sheep. A “degenerate” form of the Algerian Arab, called the Goundoun, is found in western Niger.
Algerian Arab sheep are found in north-western Africa and in the Sahelian region of West Africa south of the Sahara. They are particularly common in Algeria, but are also found in Morocco, Tunisia, and to a certain extent Libya. South of the Sahara an Algerian Arab variety known as the Macina has traditionally been kept by the nomadic Fulani ethnic group.
The Macina is the only type of wooled sheep traditionally kept by Fulani pastoralists. Along with the Dongola sheep, the Macina is the only native breed of wooled sheep south of the Sahara. The Macina breed is largely confined to the Niger Bend in central Mali, but a “degenerate” form is found in western Niger. The Macina variety of the Algerian Arab breed was developed by Macina Fulani tribesmen in the Niger Bend region of central Mali through transhumance management practices.
The Algerian Arab is characterized by a thin tail and coarse wool. The breed is very hardy with many favorable adaptations to conditions in the hot, arid regions around the Sahara Desert in western Africa. The animal can walk long distances, and resist extremes in temperature- a very favorable trait in desert environments where temperatures can vary dramatically from day to night. It is also very resistant to both drought and poor nutrition. Algerian Arab sheep are mainly used for their meat.
The earliest ancestors of the Algerian Arab are thought to have arrived in North Africa from Western Asia. The breed is thought to have been derived from the sheep of the Tadmit region of Algeria. Tadmit is a town about 360 kilometers inland from Algeria’s coastal capital city Algiers. Today there are many different varieties of Algerian Arab sheep, and the sheep have been crossbred with other breeds in many areas. The modern Tadmit breed of Algeria, for example, has been crossbred with Merino sheep from France. The varieties in the southern regions of Algeria are considered to be the purest form of the Algerian Arab breed.