Individual preferences, changing market conditions, environmental constraints, and regulatory interventions can all contribute towards livestock-keepers in arid environments moving away from their traditional livestock production systems. As a consequence, certain local breeds and the genetic resources they represent may become used less and less, eventually becoming threatened with extinction. Where society considers the maintenance of such genetic diversity to be important, conservation initiatives must be established. The paper presents results from an empirical case study carried out in the Borana lowlands of Ethiopia and Kenya. Conservation costs in the form of local livestock-keeper opportunity costs incurred from keeping the breed targeted for conservation rather than an alternative breed were measured. A contingent valuation, involving 370 households each completing an iterative bidding game, was applied. Respondents stated their willingness to accept compensation for conserving traditional Borana cattle instead of keeping other cattle breeds. The data was analysed using a Tobit model and we conclude that the costs of a community-based conservation programme split between Ethiopia and Kenya, based on a safe minimum herd size, would require V25,400 per year in terms of direct support payments and management and monitoring costs
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