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Perceived Biological Attributes of the Wayanad Dwarf Cattle – A Qualitative Study Using Thematic Analysis

Reeja George

Abstract

The Wayanad Dwarf Cattle have been reared traditionally by the Kuruma tribes of Wayanad district of Kerala. This paper uses unstructured interviews with thematic analysis of interviews to explore the perceptions of the Kuruma cattle keepers about the important biological attributes of the Wayanad Dwarf Cattle. The results of the study shed light on important perceived biological attributes of the Wayanad Dwarf Cattle such as the perceived higher milk non-fat solid and fat, higher quality of animal dung, the fact that these animals did could be reared without feeding them expensive concentrates. The hardiness of the Wayanad Dwarf Cattle was also an important perceived biological attribute with the ensuring advantages of very minimum housing facilities, rare incidence of diseases and their ability to withstand extremes of climate and terrain. Important recurring themes in this regard included the adaptable nature of the animal in seasons of water scarcity and their unique grazing behaviour wherein they used their straight pointed horns to dig on the hard barks of the tall trees of the Wayanad forests, for feeding on the exposed softer, green, inner parts of tree stems. Policy interventions to for sustainable community based conservation of the Wayanad Dwarf Cattle would inevitably have to take into consideration the perceptions of the traditional stakeholders in this sector.

Keyword: Wayanad dwarf cattle; Attributes of native cattle; Perception.

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