Conservation of pony & grazing fields

This much is clear. There is either a communication gap or a misunderstanding between pony rearers/owners and the Government. Even after the State Government’s announcement that horses/ponies may be let loose either at Lamphelpat or Marjing Polo complex, Pangei, the Manipuri Pony and Polo Players Welfare Association is still demanding a permanent grazing field for Manipuri ponies which may imply that the area set aside by the Government is inaccessible or not large enough. No doubt, a permanent grazing field is urgently necessary for conservation of Manipuri ponies. And conservation of ponies is not only about protection of the rare horse breed. Conservation of ponies is also about preservation of the State’s proud history, rich culture and centuries old traditions. At the same time, ponies are central to the game of polo. There should be not one but enough grazing fields for Manipuri ponies. But the total number of Manipuri ponies is dwindling fast, at an alarming rate. If some concrete and effective measures are not put in place urgently for their protection and preservation, there is a strong likelihood of the particular species disappearing completely from the surface of Earth sooner rather than later. The game of polo is simply unimaginable without ponies. But the game of polo has not yet done enough to sustain Manipuri ponies. In fact, polo is the only hope for survival of Manipuri ponies because this particular horse is no longer used for any other purpose except for playing polo. Ponies always occupied a prominent and respectable position in the history and culture of Manipur since mythological period.  Manipuri ponies were seldom used as beast of burden nor were they used for ploughing fields. They were animals of war, a prized asset of each and every Manipuri family in the bygone days.  The predicament of Manipuri ponies has its roots in fast disappearance of wetlands and ever shrinking grazing fields.
Though Manipuri ponies are indispensable to the game of polo, they have very little commercial value.  It is a common knowledge that an entity or an animal which has no commercial value is doomed in this highly commercialised age.  Who would rear and take care of ponies when they have very little utility and commercial value? With the exception of a few, no common people would like to invest time, energy and money in rearing ponies.  It is for this very reason that horses/ponies are left to feed on streets without any protection from scorching heat, torrential rain and chilling cold. No doubt, polo players love and value ponies.  But their number is too few to shoulder the task of conserving ponies, and in addition, they don’t have the resources to accomplish such a crucial mission.  This is where the need for State intervention is felt acutely. The State can also rope in interested NGOs and polo clubs for protection and preservation of ponies but it must take the initiative.  At the same time, the State Government needs to implement the Manipuri Pony Conservation and Development Policy 2016 in letter and spirit with the right dose of political will as demanded by the Manipuri Pony and Polo Players Welfare Association. All the citizens in general and animal rights activists in particular too need to take up the cause of ponies concurrently just as they are doing for other animals like Sangai.  If we are celebrating the birth of Polo on the soil of Manipur, if we are proud about the famous Manipuri cavalry of bygone days and if we are glorifying the deadly Arambai (darts thrown from speeding horses against fleeing or pursuing enemies), we must show respect and gratitude to ponies by giving them the much needed space.