Sunday, 22 July 2012

Deccani Breed sheep 'Gongodi's are back, locals act as gene keepers

U Sudhakar Reddy
The threatened species of Deccani breed sheep conservation is taken 
up as a community initiative on scientific basis in the State where local shepherds are 
acting as gene keepers. Deccani Breed was known for its black wool and its gene pool has 
been affected by cross breeding with various other indigenous.  With the revival efforts 
of the pure breed in Medak district in the State and in Maharasthra the  making of 
traditional 'gongadi'(blanket) with the deccani sheep wool is again catching up and city  
residents showing interest to buy the small size Gognadis.
The deccan breed is found in four states in AP, Karnataka, Maharasthra and parts of North 
Tamilnadu in the Deccan plateau. Ms. S Ashalatha a conservationist from an organization 
Anthra working in Medak says ,”shepherds selected the breed over the years for its 
tolerance to drought, fodder and water shortages, capacity to migrate long distances and 
ability to endure large variations in diurnal temperatures. The wool has traditionally 
been spun into yarn by women and woven by men into blankets known as gongadi. Now with 
city residents are asking for small sized Gongadis so that they can use them 
conveniently. The market for the special wool blankets of Deccani sheep is now showing a 
positive sign,”
The Deccani breed was losing its traits as it was rapidly out-crossed with other 
non-wool, primarily, meat-sheep breeds like the Red Nellore. The coarse wool was out the 
market after it was flooded with cheaper imported wool products. AP has been loosing 
several indigenous live stock like Ongole bull which is now popular as Brahman bull in 
America and Europe and Malaysia.
 According veterinary scientist and Anthra director Ms Sagari R Ramdas the collapse of 
the local wool market was a consequence of imports of cheap wool from Australia and 
Europe. This has also resulted in loss of Deccani breed.,
The shepherds are trained to identify the best breed among the local livestock and they 
use them for  breeding purpose. Breeding festivals are also conducted for Deccan breed 
sheep to bring back the pure breed again.
 Ms. Sagari Ramdas says,” we are mobilising local communities to conserve the local 
Deccani sheep breed and Osmanabadi goat breed, native to the Deccan plateau. In Andhra 
Pradesh, about 400 pastoralist and agro-pastoralist families spread across 24 villages in 
Hathnura, Jinnaram, Narasapur, Narayankhed and Shivampet mandals of Medak district are 
involved in the project.  It revealed that Hathnura, Jinnaram, Narasapur, Shivampet along 
with Veldurthy in Medak district are amongst the handful of remaining geographic 
locations in the state which continue to have significant numbers  of the total sheep 
population of ‘pure Deccani breed population’.
Special exhibitions are being conducted in the city to ensure that a market is available 
for the sale of gongodis. K Rajini a lecturer resident of Banjara Hills says ,"these wool 
blankets are good and keep warm. The imported ones and those available now are not that 

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