TODAY -

Continuous bid to save endangered Manipuri ponies
- The People's Chronicle Editorial :: November 29, 2022 -



Conduct of the first Chief Minister's Sagol Kangjei Championship by All Manipur Polo Association (AMPA) inside the sacred Kangla as one of the components of the Manipur Sangai Festival-2022 indicates that the government is keen to not only revive the indigenous style of polo game but also contribute towards preventing the highly endangered Manipuri ponies from going extinct.

Unarguably, the championship's theme "Save Manipuri Pony, Save Grazing field, Revive Sagol Kangjei" reflects seriousness of the government to make the campaign for saving Manipuri ponies purposeful and fruitful, and will hopefully make budgetary allocation corresponding in size, degree and extent of what it intends to achieve.

The recent announcement made that specific number of police stations would be identified entrusting the task of rearing ponies and the decision of setting up mounted police units corroborate the government's resolve to maintain adequate population stock of the rare but endangered pony species.

Regarded by many as the true breed of horse for the sport of polo on account of its pace, manoeuvrability and versatility, another unique characteristic of Manipuri pony, as per the experts, is its ability to search for food even when submerged halfway in water, thus raising its chances of survival even in flooded areas.

In fact, perilous condition of Manipuri pony even figured in a parliament session when the then Lok Sabha MP Dr Th Meinya had explained to his fellow parliamentarians on the historical relevance of Manipuri ponies and urged the Union Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports to assist the state government in reversing the trend of ever decreasing number of ponies in Manipur and to promote polo, one of the oldest equestrian sports.

Though there has been no policy announced by the centre specifically for saving the horse breed as proposed by Dr Meinya, the plight of Manipuri ponies has been figuring occasionally during government events whenever reports surface about vehicles hitting ponies wandering on the roads or the pedestrians and motorists suffering injuries while trying to avoid hurting the animals.

In fact, around 2017, incumbent chief minister N Biren presided over the first meeting of Manipuri Pony Development to chalk up strategies for preserving and increasing the. pony population.

That the government continues to strive for ensuring survival of the indigenous horse breed has also been made crystal clear when chief minister N Biren proposed incorporation of a chapter on Sagol Kangjei in the school syllabus during the closing function of the Sagol Kangjei championship.

Though tutoring the students on Sagol Kangjei would help create awareness among the young minds about the history of the indigenous game of Manipur, which later transformed into modern polo, the most effective means for achieving the goal of keeping alive the history of the game would be in saving the Manipuri ponies and stabilising its population, for it is obvious that extinction of the animal closely related with the history of erstwhile kingdom of Manipur would dilute the very objective of imparting classroom teaching on the game.

Another move that could help save Manipuri ponies is to prevent the horse breed from wandering on the roads and scavenging on dumping sites for such sights would give the impression to the public that they are filthy animals unworthy of fostering like pets, such as imported breed of dogs, whose parenting entails expenditure much higher than in rearing a Manipuri pony.



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