In a tragic incident reported in Quepem on Thursday morning, a youth lost his life after the two-wheeler he was riding dashed against some stray cattle moving along the main road. The problem of stray cattle which occurs mostly in the cities has become a matter of grave concern.
At times stray cattle also attack pedestrians and vehicles. Stationary cows on the road are a cause of frequent deadly road accidents especially at night. Once a cow stops giving milk, feeding and maintenance of the cow becomes a financial burden on the farmer who cannot afford their upkeep. Cattle that farmers are unable to sell are eventually abandoned to wander. Cows and buffaloes roaming the streets and eating from garbage bins are a common sight.
Even though there have been multiple government interventions, the problem persists. The abandonment of cattle is unfortunate as they are quite an important resource, contributing to nutritional security and strengthening local livelihood. It is understood India has over five million stray cattle, as per the 20th Livestock Census released by the Union Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying in January 2020.
Given the complexity of the problem, simply directing stray cattle towards goushalas (cow shelters) is not going to be sufficient. In Goa besides causing road accidents, stray cattle also invade tourist places like beaches. Reflective collars are at times put on the stray cattle so that they can be noticed at night. Besides the road users who get injured or are involved in a fatal accident as a result of hitting a stray animal, the animals too get injured or killed.
It is prudent to ensure removal of stray cattle from public areas without injuring them and to carry them safely to a place where they will be fed properly and looked after in a humane manner. Farmers should be held responsible for looking after their own cattle even if they are not productive.
While grazing, the cattle should be accompanied by the owner. Our cities need to be kept free from garbage bins so that the stray cattle are not attracted towards them where they feed on the waste by overturning the bins. It is learnt that stray cattle in Vasco are being moved to a new home in Mayem and plans are afoot to shift all stray cattle from Vasco within a span of three to four months. Other cities in the state should do likewise and shift all the stray cattle roaming on the streets to the various goushalas.