Coronavirus impact: Raigad shepherds abandon their ponies in Mahad

Updated: Jun 28, 2020, 10:08 IST | Vinod Kumar Menon | Mumbai

According to officials, the shepherds, who mostly belong to the nomadic tribes, have had no source of income since the lockdown began in March. Cyclone Nisarga, which hit the district earlier this month, only made it worse

The ponies that were found grazing in an open field in Mahad. Pics courtesy/Animal Husbandry Department, Raigad
The ponies that were found grazing in an open field in Mahad. Pics courtesy/Animal Husbandry Department, Raigad

The animal husbandry department in Mahad, Raigad, has had to contend with the issue of abandoned ponies, as shepherds in the region have been reeling under extreme poverty due to the pandemic. Two days ago, the department took five abandoned ponies into custody, of which one died due to malnutrition.

According to officials, the shepherds, who mostly belong to the nomadic tribes, have had no source of income since the lockdown began in March. Cyclone Nisarga, which hit the district earlier this month, only made it worse.

Speaking with mid-day, Dr Subhash Mhaske, deputy director, animal husbandry, Raigad district, said, "Two days ago, during a routine inspection in Mahad area, I spotted an injured pony, being treated by our veterinarian. On inquiring, we learnt that some ponies had been abandoned, and that they were spotted grazing in an open field. We immediately took them into our custody."

Following an inquiry, the department found out that a few shepherds, who belong to a nomadic tribe from Satara, had visited Mahad in search of a livelihood. "They continued to stay here through the lockdown, but were compelled to return home after the cyclone. Since they could not afford to transport the ponies, they abandoned them," Dr Mhaske added.

According to Dr Mukund Londhe, life stock development officer, Mahad, most of the ponies were above two years old. One of them had sustained injuries, as its legs had been tied to prevent it from running.

"This is the first time that we have come across an instance, where the owners have had to disown their ponies. We have already decided to send them to animal lovers, who have ponies and horses at Alibaug. Most of them are in direct touch with us," said Dr Mhaske.

While each pony can fetch over R60,000, Dr Mhaske said that there are very few takers for it in the Konkan region.

The department said that the police will do a panchnama, and take photographs of each pony. "This will help, if anyone comes forward to inquire about the ponies, we can hand them over to their original owners," said Dr Mhaske.

Dr Dhananjay Dubal, who holds additional charge as assistant commissioner, Animal Husbandry Veterinary Polyclinic, Alibaug, has been given the responsibility of looking after the ponies. He was, however, unavailable for comment.

05
No. of ponies found in Mahad, earlier this week

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