What is Mithun?

By : Neha Dhyani

Updated : Mar 1, 2023, 15:05

Mithun or Bos frontalis is a semi-domesticated bovine species known to have originated 8000 years ago. The ruminant Mithun belongs to the Bovidae family, Artiodactyla order, and Mammalia class. Mithun is known to have a relationship with gaur or Bos gaurus. Mithun bovine species is found in the northeastern regions of India and is known to live at an altitude of 300 to 3000m above mean sea level. They enjoy cool climates and avoid direct bright sunlight. The Mithun population is highest in Arunachal Pradesh. It is also found in Bhutan, Myanmar, and Bangladesh.

ICAR-National Research Center on Mithun

In order to conserve the valuable species of Mithun, ICAR-National Research Center on Mithun was established in Nagaland in 1988. The indigenous species of the northeast regions of India are considered valuable for the communities and tribes.

The goal of the ICAR-National Research Center on Mithun is to play an important role in the breeding, conservation, and health management of the spectacular species of Mithun. The research centre has been working on getting important information on farmer-friendly ways of Mithun husbandry.

In 2019, an MoU was signed by the ICAR-National Center on Mithun (NRCM) and Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Department, Government of Mizoram, to promote Mithun husbandry. Under the MoU, the state of Mizoram agreed on the transfer of technologies that benefit Mithun farmers. This includes technology backstopping, shed construction, and supply of semen doses free of cost.

Characteristics of Mithun

Mithun looks similar to a Guar or the Indian Bison. However, they are smaller in size. Like the Indian Bison, Mithun has a good build, large in size, and has an average weight of 500-650 kg. A Mithun has a characteristic feature on their heads. They have a flat face and broad frontal bones. When viewed from the front, it forms the shape of an inverted triangle.

The Mithun has horns that are gently curved inwards and pointed at the end. Another striking feature of Mithun includes the prominent flat and tapering ridge on the shoulder that extends to the centre of the back.

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Value of Mithun in the Northeast Regions

People in the northeast regions value Mithun, which is also believed to be a symbolic representation of communal harmony and peace. The people of Arunachal Pradesh celebrate the “Soulung” festival to commemorate the birth of Mithun on earth.

Owning a Mithun is considered a symbol of social status and indicates how rich the person is. It is also used as a means of trade in some groups as people and communities exchange Mithun to settle debts or payout legal obligations. The cost of an adult Mithun can range from Rs 60,000 to Rs 1,00,000. A Mithun is also referred to as the “sacrificial ox” as it is sacrificed in Nagaland during the “Feast of Merit”.

Importance of a Mithun

A Mithun is an important and unique bio-resource found in the northeast regions of India. The animal has a strong value in the communities and tribes. They are used for milk production, meat, and hyde.

A Mithun is an important and unique species found in the northeast regions of India. The bio-resource is valued in the indigenous communities, and ICAR-National Center on Mithun (NRCM) was established to protect the species and promote Mithun husbandry.

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FAQs on Mithun

Q 1. What is a Mithun and Which State Animal Mithun is it?

A Mithun is a ruminant, semi-domesticated species of bovine which is a State Animal of Arunachal Pradesh.

Q 2. In which state is the population of Mithun the maximum?

The population of Mithun is the maximum in the state of Arunachal Pradesh.

Q 3. What is the importance of a Mithun?

A Mithun is a unique bovine species found in the northeast regions of India. The species has a huge value in the tribes and indigenous communities. Furthermore, it is also important for its uniqueness and use of milk, meat, and hyde.

Q 4. What efforts were taken to conserve the species of Mithun?

The ICAR-National Center on Mithun (NRCM) was formed in 1988 in Nagaland to conduct research, protect the species, and promote Mithun husbandry.

Q 5. What are the characteristic features of a Mithun?

A Mithun has a huge size, strong build, and characteristic inverted triangle flat-shaped face. It also consists of a prominent ridge on the shoulder that extends up to its back.