- Jallikattu serves as basically an incentive to these farmers to save the native breeds
- Through a programme of recording and selection one could ensure these native bull breeds while making superior animals available to local farmers
The Kangayam bulls used majorly in Madurai Jallikattu is part of the Draught breed. Bulls such as Kangayam, Umblachery, Bargur, Alambadi and Pulikulam are the only genus used for Jallikattu. These bulls that are endemic to South Asia are characterised by the prominent hump on their back.
Jallikattu serves as basically an incentive to these farmers to save the native breeds rather than go after the exotic Jersey breed gang. Jallikattu is just a system adopted by the Tamil farmers for selecting a gene pool for breeding and domestication. With time, the game and the popularity helped promote the breeding of the animal so it began to pumped in as a half truth saying that without Jallikattu the breed would die out.
There are some other ways to conserve the native breeds of bulls in India. A gene pool and a history of these native breeds need to be maintained first off, so that progeny testing can determine its purity and native classification. Alternatives such as artificial insemination should also be considered. And so when these bulls are selected for breeding their pedigree information can serve as the marker and not just the bull that emerges victor in Jallikattu.
The introduction of exotic breeds have resulted in the loss of indigenous bull breeds in the country. Along with this there is no existing breeding society to maintain data or records of the particular herd to promote its longevity. In A note on Indian farm animal genetic resources written by SC Chopra, the writer details the necessity for domestic gene resourcing.
For native breeds like Kangayam, the cattle is dependent on Korangadu, but now even that is depleting, making it difficult for the cattle to survive. A Korangadu typically consists of a mixture of grass, legumes and tree species including annual and perennials. Farmers who possess Korangadu pastureland but own few or no livestock lease the land to landless livestock keepers. Over the years, Korangadu has evolved into a well-structured system with sound management practices, a code to select species, and maintenance adopted to suit soil, climate and rainfall conditions of the area. The system provides income security to the local livestock keepers, and conserves domestic animal biodiversity and ecology of the region.
During earlier times, this Kangayam breed was used for draught purpose to draw water from open wells and for ploughing drylands. Presently they are used for ploughing and transporting agricultural produce through bullock cart. The population of the Kangayam cattle is now decreasing at an alarming rate due to introduction of tractors in these areas. The population size of true to type of Kangayam cattle breeding bulls is about 60. So seemingly only an incentive of Jallikattu and pride can keep these native breeds from dying.
Research has shown has shown that a local breed will disappear due to pressure from replacement breeds (Jersey cow) or even replacement agricultural systems, even though the native stock has a great deal to offer to national or regional production. In these cases, national or local programmes can be established to carry out further research into the breed, establish improvement programmes, and work with local farmers to re-establish local interest and respect for the breed.
Through a programme of recording and selection one could ensure these native bull breeds while making superior animals available to local farmers wishing to return to these traditional breeds. Tamil Nadu could look to Haryana for inspiration in this matter where under in situ conservation project, Gaushalas located in Haryana, Gujarat, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh have been examined to advocate a proper prototype for recording, maintaining, enhancing and conservation of indigenous cattle breeds.
Last Updated 31, Mar 2018, 6:49 PM