2021
  • Non-ICIMOD publication

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Mithun (Bos frontalis): The neglected cattle species and their significance to ethnic communities in East Himalaya — A review

  • Tashi Dorji
  • Jigme Wangdi
  • Yi Shaoliang
  • Nakul Chettri
  • Kesang Wangchuk
  • Summary

Objective: This review consolidates the available information on the socio-economic and ecological significance of Mithun in the lives of ethnic communities in East Himalaya.

Methods: Standard guidelines were followed for the review and data collection was carried out at three stages; literature search, literature screening, and literature review and analysis.

Results: Records indicate a long association of Mithun with the ethnic groups. Mithun serves as a symbol of pride and local currency for barter trade in the ethnic society. Its utilities range from being used as a bride price to settling legal disputes. Several cultural festivals and local ceremonies are celebrated around this bovine. Due to its semi-wild nature, this animal also has an ecological role to conserve broad leaf sub-tropical forests. However, it remains neglected and has not received policy attention, leading to a stagnated growth. The institutions for Mithun research and development are also weak. Furthermore, the species is under threat from new diseases and habitat alteration triggered by climate change.

Conclusion: Founded on the current state of knowledge, there is a need for institutional development, strengthening institutional linkages, and promoting regional cooperation among Mithun rearing countries for further research and development of this unique cattle

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