Tenyi Vo: An Endangered Indigenous Pig Breed - Eastern Mirror
Monday, March 04, 2024

Tenyi Vo: an endangered indigenous pig breed

By Thejoto Nienu Updated: Dec 05, 2023 8:52 pm
Tenyi Vo
A drove of the indigenous ‘Tenyi Vo’ seen during an exhibition at Naga Heritage Village, Kisama, on Tuesday. (EM Images)

KISAMA — Nagaland’s very own indigenous pig breed ‘Tenyi Vo’ (also called ‘Votho’) is at risk of becoming an endangered species due to evolving swine crossbreeding, import of pigs and other circumstances.

The striking disclosure was made on the sidelines of the ongoing 24th edition of Hornbill Festival at the Naga Heritage Village, Kisama, where the exhibition of Tenyi Vo is being facilitated primarily to spread awareness.

Speaking to Eastern Mirror, the in-charge of the exhibition, Zacito Phesao, a native of Runguzu Nasa from Phek district, informed that there are many other factors that are posing imminent threat to the survival of this indigenous breed.

The Tenyi vo breed was certified by the Breed Registration Committee of Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) on June 21, 2016.

Tenyi Vo is a pot-bellied animal with sagging back and pendulous belly touching the ground and the female swine is characterised by straight tail ending with a white switch reaching the hock joint, white stocking, white markings on the forehead and ventral body.

The animal has strong and long tapering snout, small erect ears and bright alert eyes and the weight of an adult pig varies from 35 to 50kg.

The female pig attains sexual maturity as early as 150 days (average 180 days) while it is as early 90 days in the case of the male pig.

The gestation period is between 109 and 116 days and the farrowing usually consists of four to six piglets.

According to available data, the estimated population of the indigenous Tenyi Vo in Nagaland was about 60,000 to 70,000 about a decade ago.

Phesao said the indigenous breed has good quality meat with a distinctive flavor and in Naga tradition, the meat was usually offered to important persons or consumed during special occasions.

In addition, the meat of the local pig was also believed in aiding speedy recovery of injuries and helping sick persons to regain strength and vitality.

Journey of the exhibition

Phesao shared that the journey of the exhibition was a herculean task as the pigs had to be gathered from various villages and districts of Nagaland, which involved long-distance transportation and, in the process, some piglets died after reaching Kisama.

He informed that the piglets were gathered from Runguzu Nagwu, Chesezu, Khusoh and Kutsapo villages in Phek district, and some from Longleng and Mon districts.

There are about 40 pigs at the exhibition.

The transportation of the swines also involves a lot of effort and time as the rare breed can leap and jump like wild boars.

About ten piglets reportedly died of exhaustion during the transportation process while some were killed in the exhibition arena after being attacked by the bigger ones.

Informing that the initial idea was for exhibition and sale as well, Phesao however said that, realising the scarce number of the pigs, they had to give up the idea of selling the pigs.

“Instead of selling, we need to preserve the breed which is endangered,” he asserted.

Factors leading to decreased population

Phesao maintained that the main factor behind the decrease in population of the Tenyi Vo is the decree passed by most villages restricting free movement of animals due to sanitary reasons, while the indigenous breed, by nature, is a free roaming animal and cannot be reared in demarcated confinement.

According to his estimate gathered from travelling to various districts, the present population of the indigenous pig in Nagaland could be at the most 5000. Initially, keeping the local breed in confinement led to drastic loss of population, which then ultimately led to loss of its original habitation, he said.

It was informed that these indigenous pigs can attain an average body weight of only 10-12 kg in a year, while the other breeds of pigs, especially those imported, can attain body weight of up to 100 kg in a year, which led farmers to choose other breeds.

Meanwhile, local farmers from Phek district also shared that the outbreak of swine-fever has also fatally affected the local breed.

Way forward to preservation

In the opinion of Phesao, to preserve this indigenous breed will require government intervention to demarcate some forest areas with proper fencing and boundary for the pigs to roam and breed naturally, free from human intervention and disturbances.

He said setting up projects purely for the preservation of Tenyi Vo will be required if this species is to be saved from the brink of extinction.

Making a comparison of the feed consumed by the Tenyi Vo and other breeds, he said the Tenyi Vo consume less. He also felt that letting the local breed back to its previous habitation would be much healthier.

Phesao also said that to preserve the local breed, the pigs should be kept distant from human activities, the rearers, caretakers or even visitors should follow certain sanitary protocols, to prevent any disease outbreak.

Also, there should be strict ban on rearing other breeds in areas where the local breed is reared, he said.

By Thejoto Nienu Updated: Dec 05, 2023 8:52:00 pm
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