Mighty Mithun Under Threat

‘Mithun’ (Bos frontalis) is a semi-domesticated animal found in the hills of North East India.Although it is also found in Nagaland and in other states of North East in small number, Mithun is especially seen as an important animal of Arunachal Pradesh. The reason is, unlike other states, this animal has religious significance and intimate relation with socio-cultural life of the people in Arunachal Pradesh.

In addition to social and traditional values, the economic values of mithun is also very high. The cost of mithun at present, ranges from Rs 25,000 to 40,000 per head. This, despite the fact that Mithuns are physically weak animal and are not fit for draught purpose. Adult female mithun can produce 1-1.5 litres of milk in a day and therefore cannot be considered for milch purpose. A Mithun usually has alife span of 25-30 years.

To generate awareness about the Mithun and the threat of extinction that it is facing, a two-day festival called ‘Bos Frontalis’ Festival 2010 was organised in Itanagar in the month of May by the Mascot Network Society and the Centre for Cultural Research and Documentation (CCRD). The event tried to generate awareness about the Mithun, its cultural significance, conservation as well as its importance as a folk icon.

Indian Council of Agricultural Research or ICAR also has a special National Reearch Centre on Mithun (NRCM) in Nagaland’s Medziphema. Here studies are on to find new facts about mithun husbandary, including safe rearing, enhancing the quality of meat and hides.

Apak Gadi, our correspondent belongs to Galo tribal community. As a community member, Apak wants the traditions to be preserved, but not at the cost of the extinction of an animal. So Apak feels, the research findings at institutes like NMRC, must be shared with the farmers and communities, so they learn the technique of cross breeding and rearing of mithuns well, instead of being dependent on the government-employed veterinarians who can not reach every village in the state.

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