India: Wild forest cows or Mithuns require community-based Lura forestry

Mithun is no longer a wild animal, nor is it completely domesticated.
So to say, it is a very decent and faithful wild animal. It requires a
specific natural habitat consisting of sufficiently densely wooded
forests, gentle slopes, water-sources and away from human settlement.
It flourishes and thrives well in areas that afford to it abundant
fodder and cool and wet environmental conditions. The animal prefers
to stay in its original, local habitat as long as the area can sustain
the population. That is to say, the animal is not normally migratory
in nature, but sometimes some mithuns migrate to distant forest areas.

Through the ages, the animal has occupied a central position in the
socio-cultural life of the indigenous communities of Arunachal
Pradesh. The people have been engaged in mithun rearing activities
since long back. Mithun is considered as an asset. However, the mithun
rearing is a very tough task. It’s a tedious and complicated affair.
So, not all people can engage themselves in this job, apart from their
livelihood activities. Generally, the village leaders, clan heads and
rich people used to afford to won and rear mithun by virtue of their
being capable of meeting the required man-force and other resources.
Mithun owning and possessing has added to the prestige and status of
the individual concerned in the society or community. As such, high
degree of importance is attached to mithun rearing. The urge for
possessing one’s own mithun seeped into the blood of people belonging
to every walk of life with the passage of time.

The fact that the
animal requires special natural habitat and the rearing and the
process of domestication would demand proper care and attention
relatively perennially led to evolution and development of a new
community-sponsored, community-based and welfare-oriented arrangement
designed and devised incorporating various mechanisms for sustainable
utilization of the resources at the disposal of the village with
particular attention to mithun rearing. This arrangement is called
“the Lura”. Lura refers to ‘a forest area within a village community
forest especially earmarked by the community with the main objective
of harbouring mithun population of the village together, irrespective
of individual ownership’. It’s not markedly different from rest of the
forests in its vegetation type, canopy type and species composition,
yet it’s a separate entity in that the practice of shifting
cultivation is regulated by the community. Besides, such an area is so
chosen wherein majority of the mithun population of the village is
found. In addition, such areas are identified and chosen for the lura
which afford the best of the natural conditions required by mithuns.
Once the area is earmarked, the community prevails upon the activities
of the individuals of the village in the lura.

The area is kept
relatively free from human disturbances and interferences. The reason
that the portion of area left-out from the previously held lura land
was under some sort of community protection and restriction against
extraction of resources, particularly, timber harvest and shifting
cultivation continuously for 5-6 years, before being curved out as a
natural consequence of positional orientation of the lura to move into
other area, has actually enriched its resource potentialities over the
years. Evidently, such area serves as a resource-pool. It is now without any
such restriction anymore and the activities such as hunting, minor
forest produce collection, etc. are allowed. The land owner(s) of that
left-out portion can now harvest the timber and also do shifting

Comments (2)

KayceeMarch 18th, 2009 at 10:01 am

Me and my friend were playing in the woods and video taping stuff, then i said i hope we don’t see any wild forest cows and she said there not real. This proves I was right!

J.SEBASTIANMarch 8th, 2011 at 11:13 pm


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