The steady decline in the pony’s population, helped in no part by the lack of proper care and supervision, has experts fearing that the Manipuri pony might completely vanish in the near future .
As an initiative to save the pony, the previous Congress Government, led by Okram Ibobi Singh, held a Cabinet meeting on November 22 last year and approved The Manipur Pony Conservation and Development Policy 2016 and the Principal Secretary, Veterinary and Animal Husbandry, Government of Manipur, issued a notification on December 23 regarding the same .
A gazette notification was also issued .
However, the failure to sanction any fund for the policy with regard to saving Manipur Pony poses a question if the plan and the initiative to save the endangered pony has been taken up only on paper.
According to an official source from the Veterinary and Animal Husbandry Department, the population census for Manipur pony is conducted every five years.
In the 17th Quinquennial livestock census of 2003, the population of pony stood at 1898.In the 19th Quinquennial livestock census of 2012, it decreased to 1101 .
The 20th census will be conducted this year within October 15 and necessary preparations have been made .
The source pointed out that training programmes for the enumerators who will be utilised for the census have already been completed .
The coming census will be carried out using tablets equipped with a specialised software developed by the Ministry of Agriculture which in turn will prevent manipulation of the data regarding the population of pony as well as enable quick submission of information and reports to the Ministry .
The new system of collecting census data which will be implemented for the first time in this year’s census, will help in simplifying the census process, it added .
Manipuri pony, which is regarded as the true breed of horse bred for the sport of Polo, has various inbred qualities and are often not reared in confined areas like residence or houses and are often left to roam freely under supervision .
It is often believed that Lamphelpat has been the grazing ground for Manipuri pony since ancient times .
However, the modernisation of the State and the construction of various houses and properties at Lamphelpat has greatly affected the pony .
Nowadays , Manipuri pony are often seen on the streets and there are numerous incidents of the ponies being struck or run over by vehicles as well .
A special investigation by The Sangai Express also found that the Manipuri pony is among the top five most rare breed of indigenous pony in India .
The other four pony breeds are Zanskari, Spiti, Khathiawari and Marwari .
Manipur pony is semi violet in colour and has many unique qualities, such as the ability to search for food even when submerged halfway in water, thus raising its chances of survival even in flooded areas .
If the population of a particular species of animal is less than 2000, they are included in the endangered list and if a particular species of animal has less than 300 healthy female, they are said to be critically endangered .
The lack of special action from the authority concerned as well as the dwindling grazing grounds thus forcing Manipuri pony to roam the streets leading to accidents as well as the severe lack of proper nutritional food and diet have all contributed to the rapidly decreasing population of the pony .
The Manipuri pony is even mentioned as ‘an endangered animal’ in the World Watch list produced by the Food and Agriculture Organisation in connection with domestic animals’ diversities .
As per The Manipuri Pony Conservation and Development Policy, 2016, a Manipuri Pony Conservation and Development Board was also supposed to be constituted but there has been no action till now regarding the constitution of the board .
According to an official source, the State Government is yet to approve the list of officials who will constitute the board .
Breeding strategy, feeding plan, protection from diseases, construction of permanent pologround and race courses, increasing the employment opportunity of pony related tasks, establishing a National Research Centre (NRC) for scientific study of the Manipuri pony, inclusion of articles related to pony in text books etc are included in the policy .
The State Veterinary and Animal Husbandry Department is the nodal Department for the implementation of the policy however the probability of success of the policy is still unknown as no funds have been sanctioned till now.
Source: The Sangai Express