Mithun - UPSC Notes

Mithun animal is the state animal of Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh. It is found in Northeast India, China, Bangladesh and Myanmar.

This article discusses Mithun animals in India. It is a general knowledge topic for competitive exams. This is why aspirants should have detailed knowledge of this topic to ace their preparation.

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What are Mithun Animals?

Also referred to as the ‘ship of the highland’ and the ‘cattle of the mountains’, Mithun is a descendant of the Indian Bison. An average adult Gayal weighs around 400-600 kgs. The length of an average Gayal varies from 2.8 to 3.3 mm. The lifespan of a Mithun ranges from 16-to 18 years.

The Mithun prefers a mild and cold climate and is a herbivorous animal that feeds on grass, shrubs and forest leaves. Farmers of North East India rear Mithuns at altitudes ranging from 1000 to 3000 metres above mean sea level in hilly, shrubby forests.

India is a country rich in biodiversity and various animal species are found across the Indian states and union territories. For a detailed list of Indian State Animals, visit the linked article.

National Research Centre on Mithun

The National Research Centre on Mithun is an autonomous research centre located in Nagaland, India. It was established in 1988. This research centre aims to develop a sustainable and scientific Mithun rearing system. It also looks after the needs of Mithun farmers. It conducts studies on the health and breeding of Mithun animals.

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Importance of Mithuns

  • The Northeastern part of India considers Mithun as their pride.
  • Mithun contributes to the socio-economic and cultural development of North East India.
  • People of North East India consider owning a Mithun a sign of prosperity.
  • The primary purpose of rearing Mithuns is to produce meat, milk and leather.
  • North-East region people consider it an essential gift in social and cultural functions.
  • Along with meat, people use its milk to produce paneer, rasgulla, curd, ghee and cheese. However, the quantity of milk produced is less.
  • People use the skin of Mithuns to produce leather bags, leather shoes and leather garments.

Socio-Economic and Cultural Significance of Mithuns

The traditional people of Arunachal Pradesh, the Idu Mishmi or the Adi people, consider Mithun sacred. To them, owning a Gayal is a conventional mark of a family’s wealth. They do not milk or make the Gayal work, but instead, they care for the gayal and treat it like their own child. They let the Gayals graze in the woods until slaughtering them for rituals or local consumption.

Gayals play an essential role in the cultural life of Arunachal Pradesh residents. Gayals are the ultimate marriage fixer for them as well! The bridegroom’s family must give at least one Mithun to the bride’s family to fix a marriage.

The Present Situation of Mithuns

The present situation of Mithuns in Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh is concerning. Here is why-

  • Indiscriminate killing of Mithuns occurs in social and cultural functions by certain people. The so-called educated people kill these gayals to display their economic and social influence. Some slaughter 50-60 gayals though that is not a part of the tradition. Even though people consume meat of Mithuns, they should not unnecessarily kill them.
  • Besides indiscriminate killing, Mithuns face death and suffering due to several diseases. These include foot-and-mouth disease and hemorrhagic septicemia. This is because they remain unvaccinated from these diseases.

Mithun plays a vital role in people’s socio, cultural, and economic development in North East India. Thus, protection and conservation of this animal are essential for the people there.

This article gives the details on Mithun animals. This is a general knowledge topic for government exam aspirants. Hope this article helps.

Aspirants can visit the linked article and get details about the upcoming government exams that comprise current affairs and general awareness as an important topic in the syllabus.

For the best preparation strategy for competitive exams candidates can visit the linked article and get detailed study material and preparation tips to excel in the examination.

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Environment & Ecology Questions in UPSC Mains GS-3

Environment Questions & Answers for UPSC

UPSC MCQ On Environment – IAS Prelims

Frequently Asked Questions on Mithun


What is Mithun’s scientific name?

Mithun’s scientific name is Bos frontalis.


Where can you find Mithuns in Bangladesh?

In Bangladesh, one can find Mithuns in the Chittagong Hill Tracts.


What do tribal people of Mizoram call Mithuns?

Tribal people of Mizoram, Chin-Kuki-Mizo call Mithuns by Sial, Sie and Se/Sia.


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