Critically endangered species: The Manipuri Pony

Critically endangered species. And it is this critically endangered species which are found roaming the roads of Imphal and scavenging on the garbage left anywhere. Not uncommon for speeding vehicles to at times knock down the critically endangered species for the roads have become their grazing grounds. One here is talking about the Manipuri Pony, without which the understanding of the game of Polo or Sagol Kangjei will never be complete and Manipur will not boast itself as the place which gave the game of Polo to the world.  It has been the same story down the years and apart from acquiring 23 acres of land for the Marjing Polo Complex there is nothing much to suggest that anything concrete has been taken up to safeguard the Manipuri Pony, without which the history of the land and the place would never be complete. The famous arambai, a poison tipped dart which used to be deftly hurled by warriors on the incoming enemy would not have been possible without the service of the Manipuri Pony. Stories have it that warriors riding the Manipuri Pony would whip the arambai out and flick it towards the onrushing enemy while riding the Manipuri Pony, demonstrating the martial skills of the warriors of years gone by. It is not only during times of war or conflict that the Manipuri Pony found a place of eminence in the life of the people, but also in promoting the game of Polo or Sagol Kangjei, which was again some sort of a demonstration of the skills of the players on a horse back.
Given the importance of the Pony in the history and identity of the land, the recent decision of the State Government that all Ponies would need to be registered has come like a breath of fresh air. The diminishing grazing ground, the lack of State patronage and the absence of any incentives to those rearing the Ponies are all reasons why so many Ponies are found on the roads of Imphal, foraging the wastes and garbage that are piled up along the roads. For one, registering the Ponies will go a long way in helping the Government keep track of the number of Ponies in the State. Secondly it will also give a sense of responsibilities to the owners. The grant or subsidy which the Government intends to provide to the Pony owners will certainly go a long way in helping them to look after the rare Ponies to the best of their abilities. The Manipur Pony Conservation and Development Policy was adopted in 2016 and it is only right that efforts are made to implement this policy so that the efforts to save, conserve and promote the rare Manipuri Pony bear fruits. The picture that accompanied the story under the caption ‘Govt set to register ponies’ and which appeared in the August 23 edition of The Sangai Express should tell a story of how the rare Manipuri Ponies are left to roam the busy roads of Imphal exposing them to the traffic rush and endangering their lives.