DNA | Last Modified - Jan 09, 2012, 04:04 AM IST
Ahmedabad: Their endurance can put Arabian horses to shame, their loyalty is unmatched and their temperament extremely fiery. Yet, despite such traits, the Kathiawari horse—an indigenous breed of Gujarat — is facing a decline in numbers.
Of the total six identified and accepted breeds of horses in India, the Kathiawari is the only one that is facing a threat of extinction. Experts who attended the Horse Show-2012 held at Dholera on Sunday said that the number of pure-bred Kathiawari horses is very low. They said that cross-breeding, a paucity of better-looking horses and a general lack of demand have led to this situation.
Some of them peg the number of ‘pure bred’ Kathiawari horses to as low as 40. Perhaps this could explain why the Centre and state government are working on a plan to revive the breed. “The number of pure bred Kathiawari horses is quite low. It should be noted that any breed whose number falls below 10,000 runs the risk of extinction and the Kathiawari breed definitely falls in this category,” said Prof DN Rank who is working on the Kathiawari horse DNA characterisation project. The project was given to the Anand Agricultural University (AAU) by Centre.
“To first identify the pure-bred horses, we need to know the characteristics that are unique to the Kathiawari breed. Through the project we are trying to do that and help preserve the pure breed,” said Rank, who is also a professor at veterinary college, Anand. He said cross-breeding is the biggest threat to the ‘pure line’ of Kathiawari horses. “A conservative estimate will put the number of pure Kathiawari horses in 100s and not 1000s. The effort is now to prevent cross-breeding and spread awareness about the ‘pure breed’,” said Rank.
Virendra Kankariya, president of the Equestrian Club of Gujarat also said that the pure Kathiawari breed is a rarity. “Unlike the Rajasthan royals who owned Marwari horses, those who owned Kathiawari horses were not that well-off. This meant they didn’t have the wherewithal to popularise the breed or spend on them to maintain their ‘purity’,” said Kankariya.