The Manipuri pony is quickly decreasing and there is increasing pressure on the government of Manipur to tackle this problem. Polo too as a sport thrives in Manipur and requires a pony. The animal and the sport are both in peril.
According to a report in The Hindu, the reason for their decline is urbanisation, which has left the animal with no grazing ground. The report said, ‘The animals graze by roadsides, in fields and marshland, and are rounded up by their owners just before the Polo tournament, of which there are five international ones each year.’
Back in the days, these horses were used as cavalry horses in the 17th and 18th centuries and later for polo by the British. It remains a ‘Pride of Manipur’ and a plays significant part in their cultural life.
The report said, there are no incentives for pony owners to conserve the breed. The number of pony clubs in Manipur has fallen from 60 around a decade ago to just 15 now. Many talented, self-made pony polo players also get no recognition.
The animals are often prone to diseases from eating garbage stuffed in polythene bags. Police say many people have been injured or even killed when they have been kicked by the ponies.
Authorities are also worried by the rising death rate among ponies.
Now, it is a big question that remains to be answered whether the breed, the game and this cultural heritage of Manipur will even survive.
Source: The Hindu
Photo: E Pao Manipur