TODAY -

Sangai & Pony, the twin face of Manipur
- The Sangai Express Editorial :: November 22, 2022 -



The biggest State sponsored festival named after the rare and endangered Sangai kicked off on Monday with a spectacular opening ceremony.

It is generally understood that the annual Manipur Sangai Festival has twin objectives; one is promotion of tourism industry and the other is preservation of the endangered Sangai which is found only in Keibul Lamjao.

Notably, Sangai is also the State animal of the State of Manipur.

Apart from celebrating the gala event for full 10 days, something concrete must be done to protect and preserve Sangai.

No doubt, the Government and a few interested organisations do organise awareness programmes and carry out publicity campaigns from time to time on the necessity of preserving the rare deer species.

If we are celebrating the biggest festival of the State in the name of Sangai, a worthy section of the festival ought to be dedicated to the Brow Antlered Deer.

It has been reported that a seminar on Sangai has been lined up as a part of the festival. But the State animal deserves more than a seminar. This does not mean the proposed seminar is not important.

Seminars can be fruitful only if they are followed by concrete actions on the ground.

Again, Sangai Festival can be assumed partially fruitful if it can alter the fate of Sangai and ensure its healthy survival even if the festival cannot bring in hordes of tourists.

It is widely accepted that Sangai is a highly endangered animal species but there is another animal which is peculiar to the State of Manipur and equally endangered.

Undoubtedly, Sangai is closely associated with the myths and folklores of Manipur.

Likewise, the Manipuri Pony always occupied a prime position in the history, culture and civilization of the ancient kingdom of Manipur.

Though endangered, Sangais are always in the limelight by virtue of being the State animal and the annual Manipur Sangai festival, and they have a domain of their own in the Keibul Lamjao National Park but the Manipuri ponies are being pushed into the pages of history.

With very little done so far for their preservation, Manipur ponies are literally living like vagabonds, roaming from one street to another scavenging food.

This time the State seems to be sincere enough in its efforts to preserve pony if the establishment of a mounted unit of Manipur Police is any indication.

Will this step be enough to protect and preserve Manipuri Pony? This is one pertinent question which every concerned individual would like to raise.

But 'something is always better than nothing' and 'better late than never'. The predicament of Manipuri ponies has its roots in the fast disappearance of wetlands and ever shrinking grazing fields.

Though Manipuri ponies are indispensable for the game of polo, they have very little commercial value.

It is a common knowledge that an entity or an animal which has no commercial value is doomed in this highly commercialised age.

Who would rear and take care of ponies when they have very little utility and commercial value?

With the exception of a few, no common people would like to invest time, energy and money in rearing ponies.

It is for this very reason that horses/ponies are left to feed on streets without any protection from scorching heat and chilling cold. No doubt, polo players love and value ponies.

But their number is too few to shoulder the task of preserving ponies, and in addition, they don't have the resources to accomplish such a crucial mission.

This is where the need for State intervention is felt acutely. The State can also rope in interested NGOs and polo clubs for protection and preservation of ponies but it must take the initiative.

Protection of ponies should start with protection of their grazing grounds.

In fact, the State of Manipur owes a lot to the sturdy, surefooted ponies for the existence of Manipur as a proud independent kingdom spanning over 2000 years before the colonial period.

If Sangai is one face of a coin called Manipur, the other face should be definitely Pony.



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