Economic Importance for Humans: Positive
The domestication of artiodactyls for subsistence purposes lead to one of the most important cultural changes in human history, the transition from a purely hunter-gatherer society to a predominantly agricultural society. In the near east, around 10 thousand years ago (KYA), goat and sheep were domesticated purely for subsistence purposes, followed by the domestication of cows (7.5 KYA). Economically, cattle are the most important domesticated animal world wide. In 2001, the global population of domestic artiodactyls was greater than 4.1 billion, more than 31% of which consisted of cattle. In the United States, one of the worlds top 4 beef producers, beef production is the country's fourth largest industry, and in 2006, per capita beef consumption in the United States was nearly 66 pounds.
In addition to meat production, bovids are used for their milk, fur, skin, bone and feces. Goats and cattle are the primary producers of commercial milk and dairy products, sheep wool is used in the mass production of clothing, and manure is commonly used as fertilizer. For thousands of years humans have used bovids for hard labor tasks such as hauling materials, plowing fields, and transportation. Domestic bovids have also been used to control invasive plant species and enhance plant biodiversity through their selective feeding behavior.
Sport hunting of bovids generates millions of dollars annually. However, trophy hunting can alter the evolutionary dynamics of wild populations by imposing unnatural selective pressures for decreased ornamentation. Finally, bovids play an important role in the global ecotourism movement as various species are readily observable throughout much of their native habitat. Wildlife related tourism is especially popular in Eastern and Southern Africa and Central North America at various National Parks.
Positive Impacts: food ; body parts are source of valuable material; ecotourism ; research and education; produces fertilizer