Manipuri pony on the verge of extinction

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Imphal, Sep 5 (UNI) Manipuri Pony, a distinct breed among the nine recognised breeds of horses in the country, is decreasing in number at an alarming rate, Professor, Randhir Singh, Central Agriculture University, Imphal said.

After an extensive research, Dr Singh told UNI here today the breed known for its alertness, sure-footed moves, flexibility and tremendous power of endurance, is decreasing in number.

''There are only 1893 ponies as per the 17th livestock census, 2003,'' he informed.

As per the world watch list on Domestic Animal Diversity (WWL-DAD) criteria, published by FAU, the breed has almost fallen under ''an endangered species'' category, he added.

Considering the unique characteristics of Manipur horses and its role in Polo, Dr Singh started documenting pony.

Its association with polo is a remarkable history as the game was played first on pony in Manipur, the land of origin for polo.

In a breed conservation improvement programme, the genetic characterisation of local breed is a major pre-requisite to set priorities for conservation and improvement, he stated.

Earlier, there was no documentation on ponies.

The present survey based scientific research has been carried out in three districts of the breeding tract, while work on molecular aspect of the breed was carried out with the assistance of National Bureau of Animal Genetic Resources, Karnal, Dr Singh informed.

Based on the above information relating to native environment (habitat), population, management practices in the breeding tract, phenotypic and genetic characteristics of the Manipuri Pony, a breed descriptor has been developed for its protection.

Declaration of reserve area for polo and pony grazing, allotment of land for Race Course, economic utilisation of the animal, establishment of Centre for Manipuri Pony Research and development and formation of Manipuri Pony Development Board are some of the recommendations for the government, Dr Singh said.

UNI NS RH RSA DS1206

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