REARING RESILIENCE: CONSERVATION OF AN INDIGENOUS CATTLE VARIETY AMRABAD PODA LAXMI GOVU, SANGAM, TELANGANA Conservation of Domesticated Species (Institution) WINNER
Poda Thurpu is a compact sized indigenous cattle breed found in the Nagarkurnool district of Telangana. It has traditionally been reared, bred and conserved by the Lambada community that had migrated from Rajasthan and settled in Nagarkurnool. Known for its distinct characteristics such as size, endurance to drought and migration capability over rugged terrain, they are also reared by Golla, Malla and Madhika community. This cattle breed is highly suitable in the context of climate change and ecosystem-based adaptations to climate change. The communities dependent on this cattle species have shown exemplary grit and determination by resisting pressures to interbreed or artificially inseminate this breed against government directives. The breeders strictly follow 100 per cent natural selection. The lambada community maintained large herds of Poda Thurpu by selectively breeding their animals. After the Nallama forests were declared as Amrabad Tiger Reserve in 2014 there was an acute shortage of grazing pastures for the animals. This led to a severe neglect of these traditional breeds. In this backdrop, Amrabad Poda Laxmi Govu Sangam was created to save this indigenous breed from extinction and maintain the traditional system of maintaining purity of the breed. This thus stands out as an incredible example of collective community action towards conservation of traditional livestock breeds.
Need for the Initiative
The Poda cattle were facing multiple threats in form of loss of grazing grounds after creation of Amrabad Tiger reserve in 2014 and also the threat from modern processes of cross breeding of species. Pure strains of goats, sheep, horses, cattle, etc. have been lost due to cross breeding thus leading to a loss of faunal genetic pool. While much attention has been given to cultivar conservation of food crops, conservation of domesticated traditional breeds of animals has received scant attention. It was in this context that community action was taken to protect this species from extinction and conserving the pure genetic pool of this unique breed of cattle. The indigenous communities have engaged themselves in the preservation of unique genetically distinctive breed of poda cattle since generations but recognising the existential threat after the conversion of Nallama forest to Amrabad Tiger Reserve leading to loss of grazing pastures, a more systematic effort was made by Watershed Support Services and Activities Network (WASSAN). They started a project to support efforts towards saving this breed. A Breeders’ Association named “Amrabad Poda Laxmi Govu Sangam ‘’ was created which maintains a nuclear herd of cattle with superior characteristics. This herd is considered sacred. Women are actively involved in the breeders’ association. Also, the traditional community practices such as cattle festivals of Lambada and Golla community have aided the protection and conservation of this cattle breed. The local community does not allow breeding with non-Poda cattle and uses traditionally accepted good traits for breeding based on good and bad omens. The breeders strictly adhere to 100 per cent natural selection. Artificial insemination of this breed is not allowed by the local community despite government directives. The funding support along with the Strategy and Action Plan prepared by the Telangana SBB also helped in the conservation efforts by the local community.
Conservation Initiatives and Impacts
Poda cattle are bred in 25 villages spread over five blocks of Nagarkurnool region of Telangana with an area coverage of 445 square kilometres. Over 350 families are engaged in the rearing and conservation of a pure variety of Poda cattle. The price of this breed has increased from 20,000 INR to 40,000 INR and the cost of breeding bulls ranges between 90,000-1,50,000 INR. Breeders having an agro-pastoral traditional knowledge system now support 15,076 herds of cattle. The Telangana SBB has also submitted a proposal to National Bureau of Animal Genetic Resources to recognise Poda Thurpu as a registered breed. The Telangana state government has also instructed to stop artificial insemination of Poda Thurpu cattle with exotic and other species to protect the gene pool of these cattle. The ICAR-National Bureau of Animal Genetic Resources has recognised the cattle as a new breed of indigenous farm animals. All this has been possible due to the sustained efforts of the local community to conserve a unique traditional breed of cattle in its natural form. The conservation of Poda cattle is highly relevant not only for the uses it provides but also for their unique attributes which provide for ecosystembased adaptations to climate change.
The efforts of the local communities in maintaining the indigenous genetic pool of these cattle and adhering to their traditional practices despite various odds is worth appreciation. It can be used as a model to conserve other such domesticated species.
• This case study focuses on the innovative ideas and strategies adopted by local communities to build resilience against climate change impact. By breeding a resilient indigenous variety of cattle, the community extended their capacities to withstand extreme drought conditions.
• The engagement of women in this community-based initiative has been inspiring. It thereby contributes to the SDG Goal-5 of achieving gender equality.
• It is notable that the local communities recognised the need of scientific knowledge and approach for successfully maintaining an indigenous breeding practice.
Recognition in India Biodiversity Awards
The Sangham Women’s Farmer group won the India Biodiversity Award under the category ‘Sustainable Use of Biological Resources’ in 2018. Contact -P.V.Satheesh Tel. +91 8451 282785 Email: email@example.com