By Kyaw Zeya
CHIN STATE, located in the north-western highland area is rich with is culture and hill tribes. Out to its difficult and mountainous terrain, Chin State is one the poorest states in Myanmar with the least investment.
However, with its unspoiled forests, fertile soil and cool summer weather, Myanmar’s western Chin State is considered the “next opportunity” for tourism development, agriculture, livestock and electricity generation in the state.
The state is also the only region in the country that breeds mithun, also known as gayal, a semi-wild species of buffalo as livestock.
In terms of livestock, mithun are currently bred using traditional methods in rural areas, so modern breeding techniques and facilities would boost production of another good source of meat.
At present, there were over 70,000 mithun in the state.
They are not like cows but with hanging necks and hairs have grown long enough to reach their ankles. Most of them are found grey in color; black and white gayals are also found in bright colors. Gayals have generally four white legs below knees; gayals with hair on the belly are also found. If gayals are looked right in front, their triangular heads can be seen. The base of the horn is slightly flat with pump backbones in a strong tail at the base.
Called as Gayals in neighbouring India, they are termed as Sials by ethnic Chin nationals; they are usually bred for meat. They are naturally found between 3000 and 10,00 feet above sea level. They are found roaming in shady gorges in townships in Chin State, Khaunglanphu and Nagmon townships in Northern Kachin State and Leshi township in Sagaing Region.
FAMOUS for its resemblance to the shape of a heart, the Rih Lake is also known for turning into a reddish colour every December. The scenic lake is full of water all year long, providing visitors with ample opportunities to visit the lake at any time of the year. Located at the western part of the Falam Township, the lake is accessible by car and bus rides.
The lake is also famous for the legend of two sisters. After the death of her younger sister, the older sister, Rih-i brought her back to life. Rih-I transformed into a pool of water to quench her sister’s thirst. She then roamed around as a mithun(ox) and, while searching for a safe place, settled in the present location, the Rih Lake.
In Chin State, the wealth of a family is measured by a number of mithun. Visitors are served with mithun meat in traditional festivals, social occasions of joy and grief. By assessing the value of mithun, wedding ceremonies and several kinds of compensations have been awarded up to this day. That might be the reason that the more mithun a man belongs, the wealthier he is regarded.
An adult mithun produces 100 to 150 viss. Chin ethnic people farm mithun with the free grazing system and about 4 acres of graze land is needed for a mithun.
Due to the free grazing system, the cattle occasionally fall prey to the wildlife. Besides, the system has allowed the cattle to invade the agricultural plantation. Experts has recommended to farm the mithun by the semi intensive system. Today, a research farm on mithun is established on 100 acres in Mindat, Chin State, in efforts to develop meat production in Chin State.