There is one stray cow for every 54 people in Raipur, scientists count

T V Jayan New Delhi | Updated on January 21, 2021

Ever wondered how many stray cattle are roaming on the streets of Indian cities? In Raipur, the capital city of Chhattisgarh, it is around 35,000, or one street cow for every 54 city dwellers, a study has found.

In what could be one of India’s first-ever study to ascertain the number of stray cows wander in a city area, researchers from Pandit Ravishankar Shukla University in Raipur found that an estimated population of close to 35,000 stray cattle present in the city, which has a population of 18.7 lakh.

India’s 20th Livestock Census released in 2019 reported that the cattle population is 198.48 million of which over 5 million are stray cows.

The current study led by Atanu Kumar Pati, professor at the School of Studies in Life Science at PRSU, is significant in scientifically analysing and subsequently curbing the cattle menace in India, where roaming cows often lead to human-animal conflicts and road accidents. The study, which is a doctoral work of Pati’s student Bhupendra Kumar Sahoo, appeared in the journal PLoS One, on Wednesday.

For the study, the researchers divided the city into 190 grids of one square kilometre (1km x 1km) each. It was further narrowed down to 163 grids. The researchers randomly picked up 20 grids for assessing the population of cattle wandering on the streets. They used two different methods – direct head count and more sophisticated Photographic Capture-Recapture Method (PCRCM) – for the count.

As per the data captured from their studies, the researchers deduced that the average population density of street cattle in Raipur city was around 7.28 per km. It varied from 0.4 per km (the minimum) and 23.58 per km (maximum). The study found the density of street cattle population depended on the extent of urbanisation in an area.

“Active surveillance of the urban cattle population might be of critical importance for municipal and city planners. Using studies like this, they would be able to find a way to rehabilitate cattle which are not owned by anybody as well as take necessary action to dissuade people who let the cattle out on the street,” said Pati, who has earlier done a similar but less scientifically rigorous study in Sambalpur in neighbouring Odisha State in the past.

Published on January 21, 2021

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