Kohima, May 22 (EMN): It has not been long since the pony farm at Kigwema village, in Kohima district, was introduced as part of the Hornbill Festival’s recreational activities.
Managed by the department of Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Services (AH&VS), the farm began facing various issues.
For several months till March, “we were not given feeds.” Perhaps because of ‘congestion of budget,’ the farm’s manager Dr. Asalie Khezhie told Eastern Mirror.
Nonetheless, the manager assured that they have already received feed some days ago and the ponies are “doing well now.”
On the budget for the animal’s feed, the manager said, “For the whole farm (department’s farms), we have a consolidated fund for the feeds.”
Accordingly, the funds are separated for poultry, piggery, ponies, cattle etc. During shortage of food supplies, ponies are fed “fodder grasses” as an alternative.
‘We used to let them roam freely into the forest areas, and (let them) feed on the fodder grass,’ he said.
Out of eight ponies, one old pony died recently, which was a few days back at the time of this report being filed. The animal died reportedly due to consumption of “toxic plants,” according to the farm manager. It was a “sudden dead” and the examination results showed that the animal had consumed ‘toxic plants,’ he said.
About pony attendants: The manager said there is only one pony attendant as of now. The salary is based on contingency with a “meagre income” of around INR 3500 per month, which is “not enough,” Khezhie said.
The attendant’s post is “under process for regularisation” as there are some who have been working for the long, he said.
Offering more insights into the issues being faced by the attendants, the manager said that ‘out of 365 days, we cannot force them to work for the whole day on daily basis. They have to work for their stomach from some other sources as well.’
‘Although they used to fail to come to their duties at times, we cannot force them or scold them,’ he added.
Khezhie went on to say that the staffs were employed ‘based on land ownership.’ There are about six to seven landowners who are being employed with fixed payments, the manager said.
Regarding issues of landowners, he said that “Some customs were there but just recently we have already solved.” There is no ‘landowner issues’ as of now. Rather they are ‘very cooperative with us,’ Khezhie claimed.
A detailed project report on the pony farm was submitted to the government the previous year. The ponies were placed in the category of “endangered animals.” Central assistance to the farm is being awaited, the manager said.
Khezhie, who is also the manager of the dairy farm at Lerie colony, said to visit the pony farm about three to four times a month.
In case of health problems, he said to provide regular deworming, besides supplying minerals and vitamins. He added that the ponies were very ‘sturdy and don’t fall sick very easily.’
The ponies were sourced from Assam and Manipur for between INR 40, 000 and 60, 000 per horse, an official informed during the Hornbill Festival the previous year. The equines are a type of pack animals, and meant for carrying luggage. The stable was introduced way back in 2002-03, sources added.