Millennium Post

New animals on the prowl in high reaches

Aiming to meet requirements of fresh meat and dairy products for soldiers deployed in high-altitude areas, a Defence Research and Development Organisation [DRDO] laboratory has developed hybrid varieties of animals which can sustain low temperatures of Ladakh and similar locations in the Himalayan region.

The animals – cows, goats and mules – have been developed by the Leh-based Defence Institute of High Altitude Research [DIHAR].

'Earlier soldiers were using packaged milk and meat. But the hybrid cow – a cross-breed of Ladakhi yak and high-yielding Sahiwal cows found in the plains – is able to give 25 litres of milk everyday,' the DRDO chief controller, research and development, W Selvamurthy said. 'With these new varieties in place, over 25 per cent of milk and meat requirements of the armed forces can be met locally,' he said here.

Similarly, the high-altitude-resistant goats can withstand -50 degree Celsius temperature to meet the daily requirement of meat for the soldiers posted there, he added.

The defence scientists have also developed hybrid mules, termed Zanskar ponies, which can carry loads to heights, earlier considered out of range for these animals. 'The development of these mules allows us to ensure regular supply of fresh food and other essentials to posts located in higher mountains,' Selvamurthy said.

Development of these animals has also provided the local people an additional livelihood opportunity, as increasing number of people show interest in rearing these animals.

Recently, the DRDO started a project to increase the sustainability of chickens at high altitudes. The fowls are taken to the Leh-based laboratories and facilities by military aircraft to study their ability to withstand high altitude and extreme temperature.

DIHAR has been honoured by the prime minister for developing technologies suitable for development of agro-practices in high-altitude regions.
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