Task Force for joint re-survey of Amruthmahal Kaval lands

The reasons for the bio-diversity extinction can be attributed to poor management policy and practices, afforestation in grassland, over grazing and illicit grazing, wood logging and poaching of wildlife, local encroachment and undue land allotments, and invasion of space.

The extinction bio-diversity has also endangered the Amruthmahal breed of cattle. To ensure that the cattle breed and its habitat is protected, the Western Ghats Task Force submitted its recommendations to the Government on Thursday.

The report, released by Chief Minister D V Sadananda Gowda, has proposed for a joint re-survey of all Amruthmahal Kaval lands.

With the grassland regions disappearing and disintegrating, well established cattle breeds like Punganur have become extinct, while breeds like ‘Amruthmahal’ and ‘Krishna Valley’ have become endangered. The breeds like Hallikar and Khillari have dwindled, reducing the genetic diversity as well.

Eco-sensitive areas
The Task Force recommends that the Amruthmahal Kaval lands be declared as ecologically sensitive areas, to bring back the natural biodiversity, while the concerned departments should take up their consolidation and conservation works.

The Task Force also recommends that the Government should conserve the semi-arid grasslands in grassland format, to support native breeds of not just the cattle, but also wildlife like blackbucks, stone curlew, and jungle bush quail. The kaval lands should not be diverted for non-forestry and non-animal husbandry purposes.

Amurthmahal cattle are traditional livestock breed of Karnataka. Amruthmahal Kaval is a 500-year-old historical grazing space (four lakh acres of grasslands), or a cattle home tract for breeds of old Mysore. The Amruthmahal breed is known for its endurance in adverse weather condition, strength and milking capacity.

In 62 villages
Presently the total Kaval land area under the Department of Animal Husbandry is 27,468.9 ha (65,925.36 acres) in 62 villages of six districts. The number of Amruthmahal cattle here, however, is 1,298.

According to the report, nearly 45.58 per cent of the landmass has disappeared due to different pressures of encroachment.

Around 15.60 per cent of the land is protected through afforestation with the help of the Department of Forest, leaving only 23.92 per cent of land for grazing and fodder development.

The sub-centers of Lingadhalli, Bassor, Birur and Ajjampur have stopped the nomadic principle, that is grazing in wet and cold weather Kavals, leading to detritions of pasture quality. This has in turn led to the deterioration in the quality of the cattle too.

Research institute in Western Ghats
IISc scientist Dr T V Ramachandra (Energy and Wetlands Research Group, Centre for Ecological Sciences, Indian Institute of Science) has proposed to the Government to set up a Western Ghats / Sahyadri Research Institute in the Western Ghats, if possible in Kudremukh.

But since the Forest officials said that there was a proposal for a national institute to be set up in Kudremukh, Forest Minister C P Yogeeshwar has suggested to the department to help set up the institute anywhere in the Western Ghats.

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