Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Amrithmahal Grasslands (Kavals) of Karnataka

The Untold Story of Amrithmahal (Kavals) Grasslands of Deccan plateau

The Staple foods of the great majority of mankind come from grass. The grains of grasses such as maize in Americas, rice in Asia, Wheat, Rye, Barley and oats in Europe, and the sorghums in Africa and India provide the main basis of carbohydrate diet while the flesh of animals that graze on pastures provide the main source of his proteins and fats. Thus the nurture of grasses and grasslands is a matter of great importance to him and has always been so. Many of his migrations and invasions have resulted from his search for grasslands. Increasing skill in growing cereal crops and maintaining grazing animals has been a fundamental nature of this progress in civilization. Indeed the future of his present-day civilization may depend largely on his ability to extend these basic resources to his nourishment. (Bernard & Frankel, 1964).

Konehalli Amrithmahal Kaval (Grassland)

Although the great importance of grass and grassland lies in providing sustenance and other benefits viz. building homes and furnitures, (lawns brooms, sports field and as components of some cosmetic products and medicines), with their rich Biodiversity they also serve as important habitat for wildlife like Black Buck, Wolf, Great Indian Bustard and many other endangered flora and fauna.

The Local breeds of cattle play a vital role in livelihood security in any agriculture dependent nation. Majority of the crop growing and livestock rearing areas are dry land areas with low and medium input agricultural practices which favor conservation of animal genetic diversity. The native cattle are well known for their draft efficiency, heat tolerance and resistance to diseases.

Today, many of them are disintegrating and degenerating both in quality and numbers, crumbling our genetic base. As a result, even well-established breeds such as Punganur went extinct, and breeds like Amruth Mahal & Krishna valley is endangered. Excellent draft breeds such as Amruth Mahal, Hallikar and Khillari have reduced in number as well as in their purity.

Amrithmahal breed

Breeders have actually felt that there is deterioration in the quality such as stature, structure, size and functional activities of Amrit Mahal breed over years. The number of animals in the breeding tract is getting reduced drastically due to degradation of pasture encroachment, invasive species poor grazing management and arbitrary breeding practices.

Animal genetic diversity is a part of earth’s natural heritage. The loss of unique breeds is an irreplaceable reduction in the natural profusion of life forms. Breeds with unique physiological or other traits are always of great interest. Many indigenous breeds have special adaptive traits mentioned earlier. Man has depended on domestic animals for his food, fiber and finance, cultural and scientific needs even today.

Over-utilization and misuse of these common grazing lands has led to their degradation. However, due to our ever increasing population these grassland are being converted into agricultural lands through the development of dams and canals. Ecologists estimate that more that 43% of the Indian subcontinent is in the process of changing from grassland to desert.

Presently, the Amrithmahal Kaval (Grasslands) of Karnataka has been facing the serious problem of encroachment & degradation due to:
1. Passive participation of Kavalgars.
2. Failure in implementing the guidelines for protection and conservation.
3. Most of the sub-center has stopped the nomadic grazing which lead to encroachment.
4. High labour turn-over in case of herdsmen.
5. Afforestation in grassland.
6. Overgrazing and illicit grazing.
7. Wood logging and poaching of wildlife.
8. Invasive species.
9. Encroachment with the help of Revenue and Survey Department.
10. Reckless and illegal land release for Agriculture, Mining, and to other Intuitions by the successive governments in different period of time.

This has unfortunately led to extinction of its precious biodiversity, thereby indirectly pushing the rare and endangered Amruth Mahal cattle and biodiversity to extinction.

On other hand, Karnataka has the dubious distinction of having the second largest share of the drought-prone areas of the country. Agriculture is the most significant vocation that is affected by drought. In a situation of drought the fodder availability gets altered differentially across seasons and regions. The impact of an early Kharif season drought on fodder production is likely to be different than a drought during crop growth period and followed by a Rabi season drought. Thus, pressure will be at its helm on these Amruth Mahal Kavals. And their collapse has serious implication for both livelihood & the conservation of biodiversity.

Since the problem has been not studied in its totality, we are now fortunate to have such a study done by the Maithreya Trust, Tiptur. Pls contact us for detailed report in both english and kannada.

We are grateful to the Western Ghat Task Force, Karnataka, for reposing the confidence in Maithreya and assigning this study to the Institute for the cause of bio-diversity conservation. We are grateful to Sri U.P.Singh, I F S, Dy. Conservatory of Forests, Tumkur Division, for supporting the course of this study.

Our sincere thanks to Dr. Suresh, Deputy Director of Amrithmahal Farm Ajjampura, Dr.
Ranganath for providing valuable information and kind support for this study. We are grateful for their help. Special thanks to Dr. Murgeppa, Associate professor and Head & Dr. Parmsiviha Chief consultant, LR & IC( Amrithmahal) for their valuable guidence during the course of the study.

We Kindly remember Mr. Gouthama Avarthi, Anthropologist, Mysore for supporting us by giving vital information in this project. We Thank Mr. Mohan Moolpetlu, Emarald Quest, Mr. Maheshchandra Chikkamaglore who traveled extensively for all Amrithmahal kavasl and did vital study for this project.

Our Special thanks to Mr. Manu, MAN Mysore, for bringing his wonderful team for Biodiversity survey at Konehalli.

Sincere thanks to Sri. Shivaprakash Advanne, BNHS who constantly guided us in field. and through out the year he spared his valuable time inspite of his busy schedules via Telephone. We Kindly Acknowledge support extended by Sri Sivanand and Sri Sampath, Naturalist from Mysore for their valuable guidance in Konehalli biodiversity Maping.

We remember this time Farmers, stake holders, breeders, servegars and Kavalgars of Amrithmahal cattle and grasslands.

Special thanks to Ms Jhanavi Pai, Bangalore for her valuable guidance and help in fine tuning this project report.

Finally our Special thanks to energetic Naturalist's across karnataka Mr. Ravi kumar, Ms. Deepika prasad, Ms. Aparna Kolekar, Mr. Guru Thimmapur, Mr. Santhos Tiptur, Ms. Dayani Chakravarthy, Mr. Gundappa for helping us doing biodiversity survey in Amrithmahl Kaval.


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