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Posts Tagged ‘cows

Saving the Hallikar

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The Hallikar is a cattle line found in southern Karnataka and north western Tamil Nadu. These are hardy cows that have been used to plough fields, draw carts and water, extract oil, thrash and grind grains, etc. Hallikar were apparently used extensively by Tipu Sultan’s army to cart his artillery across from one battle to another. There are also stories of how the light from the torches tied to their horns and the dust raised by their hooves decieved the British Army of Tipu’s force distributions in the battle field.

These cattle are typically taken to graze in the forest and usually this means a five or more kilometer walk in each direction. Fed on the wild grass and pretty much no fodder, their milk is said to have special medicinal qualities.

A Hallikar among some 20 cattle heads that a Lambani family reared near Odeyarapalya

A Hallikar among some 20 cattle heads that a Lambani family reared near Odeyarapalya

Sahaja Samrudha is starting an endeavor to conserve the hallikar line by working with the communities engaged in cattle rearing. During my visit to Odeyarpalya and neighbouring villages on July 8th and 9th, Krishna Prasad from Sahaja Samrudha discussed some of the challenges in achieving this objective – low milk yield, the competing interest of forest conservation by reducing grazing, the need to define a niche market, and the sheer distance to major markets (4 hours to Mysore or Dharmapuri, 6 hours to Salem or Bangalore).

Before going to the region I had heard and read that families from the Bedara Kampaliga caste consider it their duty to take care of cattle and thereby have herds of more than 30 heads. During the visit I was surprised to find that pretty much every other family had more than 30 heads in their herds! Sahaja intends to work with these families and find ways to encourage protecting the genetic purity of the Hallikar. The challenges are daunting but Sahaja has a lot of experience in facing up to such situations in bringing organic agriculture in southern Karnataka to the state it is in today.</p

Written by Dwiji

Saturday, July 12th, 2008 at 13:55

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