Berbera Blackhead, Blackhead Ogaden, Toposa (Sudan), Murle, Turkana, Gabbra, Boran, Adali (Afar blackhead), Blackhead Persian (in South Africa after genetic improvement), East African Blackheaded Persian (Uganda).
The most common features are the fat rump and the black head; horns are absent, although scurs also occur; ears can be very short to moderately long; the improved breed in South Africa has thick neck of good proportion to body; body is broad, deep and reasonably long with broad withers and back; straight back; prominent chest standing out vertically; well developed and freely hanging dewlap; tail comprises three parts: the first broad and firm close to the rump, not hanging down and not tapering; the second is curved upwards and rests against the centre of the first, tapers towards apex, which should be level with the back, and shows a clean black skin area; the third hangs from the apex of the second, is 5-8 cm long and curved with short smooth hair (Wilson, 1991).
Originally inhabited the drier areas of southern Africa and farther north, notably Tanzania, Kenya, Ethiopia, the Sudan and even Ghana; it has also been introduced for crossbreeding purposes to the West Indies and to Central and South America; the natural habitat is semi-arid and arid, but also found in many wetter areas where the comparative advantages it enjoys in dry areas are lost. The South African Persian has three distinct varieties of smooth-haired, fat-rumped sheep: the Black-headed Persian, Red-headed Persian and Speckled Persian (Wilson, 1991; Ramsay et al., n.d.).
The foundation of the breed in South Africa is one ram and three ewes from a ship, which landed in South Africa in 1869. Further importations were made subsequently but do not appear to have had any great influence on the breed. The Blackhead Persian breed was registered in South African Stud book in 1906, and by 1930 there were registered studs with 4000 animals. It has since been used to produce several recently developed breeds (Wilson, 1991).