India is largest livestock owner in the world, having 535.78 million livestock population. Total cattle population is 192.49 million (Livestock Census, 2019). Cows and buffaloes roaming the streets and eating from garbage bins are a common sight in almost every part of India.With this India is facing menace of stray cattle. Stray cows or stray cattle are animals such as cows, bulls, oxen and buffaloes that roam freely. A cow is considered “stray” when its owner no longer claims ownership or its owner cannot be determined. Stray cattle are a major issue in some states with large cattle population. They cause inconvenience both in urban & rural areas. However, at the national level, the number of stray cattle in the country has reduced to 50.21 lakhs as per the 2019 census, from 52.88 lakhs as per the 2012 livestock census. In other words, the number of stray cattle reduced by about 5% in the seven years.
(Down to Earth 05 April 2021)
Reasons for the high share of stray cattle in the country
- Once a cow stops giving milk, feeding and maintenance of the cow becomes a financial burden on the farmer who cannot afford their upkeep.
- Resources require to maintain the unproductive cattle.
- Neglect of the indigenous populations to excessive focus on crossbreeding in the past few decades.
- Increased mechanisation has reduced use of bulls in agricultural sector.
- The stringent laws and the fear of arrest, persecution, and lynching by cow vigilantes has reduced the trading of cows.
- Slaughtering cows is illegal in most of India, because cows are considered holy in Hinduism.
Problems Caused by Stray Cattle
UP: Stray Cattle Menace Allegedly Pushes Farmer to Suicide (Abdul Alim Jafri , News click, 05 Sep 2022)
A 35-year-old farmer of Karbana village of Tajganj area in Agra district, the sole breadwinner of four families, died by suicide on Sunday night by hanging himself from a peepal tree on his farm, allegedly after stray animals destroyed his crops bajra (pearl millet) cultivated in 1.5 bigha of land.
Traffic Jam and Road Accidents
The incidence of road traffic accidents (RTA) is increasing every day, especially in developing nations. Amongst various attributable factors, the menace of the stray animals remains one of the most underrecognized factors leading to animal-vehicle collision (AVC).The present study was conducted at a tertiary care trauma centre located in a major city of eastern India, between June 2019 and March 2020.A total of 185 patients had suffered RTA due to AVC during the study period. The median age of occurrence was 29.0 years. The evening was the most frequent time of accidents (4 PM to 8 PM) with two-wheelers affected in 92% of cases. stray cattle account for 21% cases. (Mohanty et al., 2021)
- The first step to prevent this should be to stop cross-breeding indigenous and exotic varieties. Research institutes should instead use the semen of indigenous breeds.
- The other approach could be reverse crossbreeding, where crossbred varieties are used as foster mothers to produce pure indigenous cows through embryo transfer technology.
- Researchers should also develop sexed semen of indigenous breeds to control the population of male calves that have lower demand.
- Indian breeds have an advantage over the exotic ones as they naturally produce A2 quality of milk that is beneficial to humans. The indigenous cow milk also has high levels of some useful components like conjugated linoleic acid, omega-3 fatty acids and cerebrosides.
- Researchers should closely study milk types from the indigenous breeds to understand their merits. This would raise the utility of the non-descript breeds.
- Besides milk, cattle is also used as draft animals. This can be further augmented if research is carried out to design agricultural tools / implements that can be used with draft animals.
- The dung of indigenous cattle, has a lot of useful bacteria that can prevent diseases caused by pathogenic strains and can be used as a natural purifier (Sharma and Singh 2015)
- It added that cow dung is a rich source of micro-flora which can be used as probiotics. (Mandavgane and Kulkarni 2018)
- Cow urine (of indigenous varieties) can be utilised in agriculture as bio-pesticide, yield enhancer and soil rejuvenator,besidescuring diseases,controlling mosquitoes, disinfection and fish food.
- Cow dung is used in energy production via fermentation and gasification processes. The cow dung ash has been used in construction as a partial replacement of conventional material and as an adsorbent.
- Cow milk, curd, ghee, urine and dung are also used in making panchgavya, which provides immunity.
Gai Aadharit Unnati (GAU): Modernizing Cow based Economy through Application of Advanced Technology(Kedia et al., 2022)
In order to conquer this problem, it has been observed that Artificial Intelligence (AI)-based model incorporation can provide a solution by integrating stray cows in a circular economy.
- The idea deals with providing fodder to the needy Gaushala/Panjrapol with donor money through the help of a local NGO, which can facilitate the fodder via a company as depicted below.
- In return Gaushalasa will provide dung which will used for production of Bio CNG, fertilizer and power.
- The aim is to create an aggregator-based ecosystem, which can help India achieve its job creation, social, and sustainability goals.
Cow based Economy through Application of Advanced Technology
Intelligent and multipurpose smart pole:The proposed system aims to develops and upgrade the approach towards the smart pole and integrates into a complete system with better efficiency, better lighting. It will also address problem of stray animals camping around the poles, The proposed system proposes an autodetection and even effective way of reporting and resolving of issues.The Cattle report system will work in 2 ways:
1. The automatic detection of cow using ML pre trained model which will send the unique code area of the detected stray cattle and alert to respected authorities in the day time.
2. The cattle report system on app will alert the respected authorities along with the unique id area of pole. Once animal detected system will again detect the stray cattle in the vicinity after 5 min as chances of stray cattle passing through road is more. If again the cattle are detected the alert will be sent to the admin through the server and also the list of contacts added by the Municipal Corp. along with the pole ID location. (Oza et al., 2021)
Government Schemes to control stray cattle
Different states have applied various schemes to control stray cattle population
- The Goa Stray Cattle Management Scheme, 2013 (Modified):
The traffic on Goa’s roads is ever increasing and with it the road accidents are on the increase. It is observed that several of the road accidents are caused due to direct vehicular hits to the animals or because the driver of the vehicle had to turn to avoid hitting the animals on the road.
a) To ensure removal of stray cattle from public areas withoutinjuring them and carry them safely to a place where they will befed properly and looked after in a humane manner. To managethe stray cattle in a humane and carrying manner.
(b) To make farmers responsible for tethering their ownanimals.
(c) To ensure that animals on grazing be accompanied by aresponsible shepherd/owner.
(d) To ensure agriculture is not damaged by stray cattle.
- Chhattisgarh Godhan Nyay Yojna
Under the scheme, government will procure cow dung at Rs 2 per kilogram from livestock owners and use it to prepare organic fertilizers(THE TIMES OF INDIA, 2020)
- Chhattisgarh government to buy cow urine from farmers
The government has decided to pay Rs 4 per litre for cow urine. Urine will be used for manufacturing of organic pesticided and fungicides.
- Mukhya Mantri Gau Seva Yojna
Government of Madhya Pradesh is implementing scheme for protection of stray animals (Gau Mata) called “Mukhya Mantri Gau Seva Yojna” Animal Welfare Board of India is also providing assistance to the Animal Welfare Organizations including Gaushalas for establishment of Shelter under Shelter Grant and assistance for feed, fodder and veterinary care under Regular Grant.