The Lions of Gir, the tigers of Ranthambore, the rhinos of Kaziranga and, if a UP Minister has his way, the cows of UP.
This new addition to the list of famous Indian safaris is the dream of UP Dairy Development and Animal Husbandry Minister Laxmi Narayan Chaudhary. A “cow safari”, he says, will have twin benefits: solve the problem of stray cattle, which has ballooned since the BJP government banned slaughter houses, and present a tourism opportunity.
“We have some big cattle farms, like in Maharajganj district, which is spread over 1,000 acres. The idea is to turn such farms, where 15,000 to 25,000 cows can be kept, into cow safaris. All facilities will be provided under one roof and arrangements made to ensure that cows can move freely,” Chaudhary told The Indian Express.
“There will be arrangements for bullock carts and other such facilities for tourists, too,” he said.
If the safari takes off, Chaudhary is sure that “others will follow our model”. “We will look at the idea of having more than one cow safari. Officers have been asked to identify farms and shelters that can be transformed to house about 25,000 cows,” he said.
It’s not the first time that a cow safari has been proposed in the country.
In June 2018, members of a foundation that runs a cow rehabilitation centre near Jaipur had announced plans to start a safari where visitors would learn about “indigenous breeds”. It’s yet to start, though, with organisers now claiming a January launch.
Chaudhary, meanwhile, is working on other plans for the welfare of his state’s cattle. “Instructions have been given to have bonfires for cattle at shelters during the winter, and ensure mats and blankets,” he said.
That’s not all. “The government is moving in the direction of providing specified semen to ensure the birth of female calves. With the birth of more female calves and more milk generation, farmers will not abandon their cattle,” the Minister said.
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