Centre provides Rs 76 lakh for Nilgiri sheep

Chennai: Lending help to conserve the dwindling population of Nilgiri Sheep, a rare fauna found only in the hilly Nilgris district in Tamil Nadu, the Central Government has sanctioned Rs 76 lakh for its breeding in a research station near Udhagamandalam.

"The Centre has sanctioned Rs 76 lakh for the conservation of the Nilgiri breed of sheep. The funds are to support our research on them and their breeding in the breeding station near Ooty (Udhagamandalam)," Tamil Nadu Veterinary and Animal Sciences University Vice-Chancellor Dr R Prabakaran told PTI.

The Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries under the Union Agriculture Ministry has allocated the funds for breeding over 500 sheep in the Sheep Breeding Research Station at Sandynallah, administered by the university.

The population of Nilgiri sheep, a fine-wool yielding animal, which was around 10,000 some ten years ago has fallen drastically and now was hovering around 1,300, he said. "The Sandynallah breeding station will breed 500 sheep and give them to the people in that area," he said.

Different from Nilgiri Tahrs, which are stocky goats with short, coarse fur and a bristly mane, Nilgiri sheep were cross-bred during the British rule and reared for their meat and wool. The quality of these sheeps is improved by crossbreeding Merino and Rambouillet sheeps.