It comes naturally to our state and is not a burden on our economy!


Darbar Move is the name given to the bi-annual exercise of shifting the secretariat and all other government offices from Srinagar  to  Jammu. Well, there is another move parallel to this, that of the Bakarwals .The nomadic  Bakerwals,  in winter reside in the plain areas of  Jammu and Kashmir  (mostly Rajouri and Poonch) and during summer start their seasonal migration towards north western Himalayas of Kashmir Valley in search of various pastures and meadows (Locally called as Behaks). These long stretches having dominant grass cover are found over altitudes of 12000 feet. Some of the famous Bahaks are Tosamaidan, Pehjan, Gangbal, Jamshidi, Dugwan, Sekiwas, Badipathri, Butapathri, Hassankhal etc.
Darbar Move continues to be debatable as economic and political commentators dub it as ‘burden on state’s exchequer’. However the movement of Bakarwals is indispensible as it sustains the livelihood of thousands of animals and human beings. It is a great example of commensalism and mutualism in which various species coexist and this movement acts as a lifeline to avoid the drastic winter of the valley and avail the lush green pastures in Summer.
              The sole source of economy for these Bkarwals is their livestock which primarily includes Goats, Sheep, Ponies and Dogs. Bakarwals possessed a fine Bakarwal sheep breed, but due to the indiscriminate crossing with foreign breeds, it’s now nearly extinct. The government gave these Gujjars better foreign sheep that gave better mutton and wool yield.  The results were good in the beginning but the problems came in later. Indigenous breeds are very tough and can resist weather vagaries and are quite resistant to various diseases, whereas the foreign breeds like Merino are delicate. These foreign breeds are not successful for nomadic conditions where they have to move through rugged terrains. Foreign breeds perform only in ideal conditions, and if they survive. Bakarwal sheep used to have short length wool and the foreign ones have long wool. When they move in areas where there are thorny bushes the long wool gets entangled which creates problems. Grazing and feed for the imported breed is a problem in winters when pastures are snowbound and there is no provision of special feed and imported breeds are also more susceptible to various diseases and ailments.
Similarly, a recent study says that Bakarwal Dog is in danger. Bakarwal Dog is an ancient working breed of dog, bred for many centuries by the Gujjar nomadic tribe as a livestock guardian dog and settlement protector. According to experts, the Bakarwal dog is different from a common dog in many ways. It is vegetarian as it only feeds on milk and bread made of maize. This helps to keep it away from attacking the flock. Birth rate among the Bakarwal dogs is also low as compared to common dogs.
Bakarwals are also accompanied by Ponies which act as the beasts of burden carrying the luggage, tents and other articles of day to day use. In fact the Bakarwals have no home and keep on moving across rugged terrains, dense  forests, alpine heights, narrow lanes, busy streets and wherever they find a suitable place, they stop their animals, erect their tent and make a kacha Chula and cook their food. Their sole source of income is their livestock from which they directly obtain milk, meat, hairs, hides etc and whenever need arises they sell their animals to earn some cash and thus are aptly called as mobile economy.
Well, we have already lost Bakarwal Sheep and if we continue in the same manner we may also lose the wonderful Bakarwal Goat. Thus there is a need to document and characterize this breed to ensure its long term conservation. The “preliminary” stages of our research reveal the Bakarwal Goats to be large and robust, with long, upward and laterally directed spiral horns and having a body coat of long coarse hairs. The common colors of the breed are Black, Brown White, Black and White and Brown and White.  Majority of the goats are horned and horns are present in both the sexes, ears are long and drooping in most of the cases, almost all of them have a beard while wattles are present only in some. Adult goats attain an appreciable body weight which is wonderful under a low input system with hardly any inputs on feed, medicines , housing etc.
The Author is doing PG on ‘Breed description of Bakerwal Goat’ at SKUAST-K. Feedback at

Lastupdate on : Tue, 6 Nov 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Tue, 6 Nov 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Wed, 7 Nov 2012 00:00:00 IST

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