Графични страници
PDF файл

want of fire-wood in the country. The cow-dung, instead of being used for manure, is usually burnt. In Bengal the growth of jungle is very rapid. "Western Bengal is supplied partly from the Soonderbuns and partly from the high lands to its west. The southern districts of Bengal draw ample supplies of oheap wood from the Soonderbuns. To the northern districts bamboos and timber are brought by river from the sub-Himalayan forests. Eastern Bengal is supplied by water from the Soonderbuns, from the frontier jungles, and from occasional private forests scattered over the country. Orissa has a good deal of forest on the hills to its north, as well as a fringe of jungle on its sea face. The open oountry of Chota Nagpore, Cooch Behar, and Assam, are all more or less surrounded by, and interspersed with, forest or jungle. Behar has no forests save the copse-like jungles on its southern border. Its mango groves yield a very large annual supply of timber, and it draws sal timber and bamboos from the Nepal forests on the Ghogra and Gunduk rivers. Imports of Behar fire-wood and petty timbers are very scarce and dear. The supply of large timbers for Bengal oomes mainly from the sal forests of Nepaul and from the teak forests of Burmah.

Among the most important products of the Bengal forest are wild

elephants, which are found and caught ^ an" in the jungles of Assam, of Chota Nag

fore, of the Orissa tributary estates, of the Bhutan Dooars, of the subLimalayan valleys, and of the Chittagong hills. Wild elephants, according to the ancient practice of all Indian provinces, belong to the paramount power, and no one can hunt or kill them without license from Government officers. For many years past Government kheddahs (or elephant-catching establishments) have worked, sometimes on the southwestern frontier of Bengal, now in Chittagong, and sometimes in Assam, and have caught large numbers of elephants for the Commissariat Department. Meanwhile all the elephant grounds have been more or less worked by native elephant-hunters, who catch elephants for the local markets after the native fashion. In the eastern districts every landholder of consideration has one or more elephants; many zemindars have five, ten, or even more elephants each. It costs comparatively little to keep an elephant in the districts where rice is cheap and bamboos are plentiful. With the recent rapid rise in landed incomes, the demand for elephants has increased largely, and their prioe is more than double what it was twelve years ago, and a well grown elephant of medium size is now worth from Rs. 1,200 to 2,000. We have at present no exact statistics of the number of elephants caught yearly all over Bengal, but we know that the Commissariat Department sometimes catches more than 50 in a year; 115 were caught last year in the Lukhimpore district alone. The Rajah of Shushong sometimes catches 30 or 40 a year in the forests below the Garo Hills ; the Julpigoree zemindar used to catch 20 or 25 a year. A good many must be caught in the other districts of Assam, some few in the Chittagong division, and on the south-western frontier by the Maharajah of Oodeypore. Altogether the yield of the Bengal forests cannot fall short of 250 elephants a year. The best elephant grounds are the Lukhimpore forests, stretching over some 8,000 or 9,000 square miles. The interior of the recently annexed Garo country is said to be an excellent elephant ground, but neither European nor native elephant-hunters have ever yet penetrated into it. In another part of this report will be found an account of the steps which have been taken to protect the State rights in wild elephants, to prevent hunters from catching elephants on wasteful systems, and to reserve to the Military Department of the State the right to buy in at reasonable prices as many newly-caught elephants as the public service may require.

The buffaloes of Assam are the best in these provinces, a result which

Buffalo**, *° attributable to the intermixture of

the Bengal breed with the wild buffalo. In Bengal the supply is scant; it is very poor in the central districts, which are supplied for the most part from Beerbhoom, the north of Midnapore, Banooorah, Purneah, and the Western frontier. The Purneah breed of buffaloes is superior. In Eastern Bengal, especially in the Dacca and Sylhet districts, the buffaloes are a very fine breed. Buffaloes are used for agriculture, but principally for draught and burden.

Their milk, which is rioher than that of the common cow, is used for making curds and ghee. The well-known Dacca cheese, which when really good is thought by some to equal European cream oheese,

_ is made from buffaloes' milk. The

The metna. ,, , ,. , .

methen or metna is a peculiar breed found in Cachar and the Eastern Hills, in colour resembling a buffalo, humped, with short black horns, and a light mane. The metna is a species of bison, and a magnificent animal. It is not used as a beast of burden, and is only prized for its flesh and for ceremonial sacrifice by the Kookies.

The cattle in Bengal are all of the humped or zebu kind. As the ttk Assam buffaloes are the finest, so the

Assam cattle are the worst, being overbred. The milch kine of Dacca are reckoned the best in Bengal, and chiefly belong to the deswali (up-country) breed, which is employed for working oil and sugar mills, draught, and other heavy work. The gowalas, or cow-keeping caste, keep herds of cows for their milk. Milk is churned into butter and afterwards burned down into ghee, and in this oondition is enormously consumed in every part of Bengal. Milk is the favorite drink of the upper classes, and is sold most cheaply,— from ten to thirty seers for a rupee.

Even in the most populous districts of Bengal it cannot be said that local breeding is ordinarily insufficient to supply the local demand; but in other places, such as Chota Nagpore, the Terai, and Orissa, where pasture land is comparatively abundant, the breeding is excessive, and a constant export flows into the central districts, which annually supplies the myriads that are carried away by disease and murrain. In all parts of Bengal the condition of the cattle is wretohed; they are half starved, and, as might be expected in a wholly agricultural country, exist in profusion. The first feature about cattle which strikes an Englishman on arrival in India is their enormous number and their poor condition. Miserable as they are, they are seen everywhere in herds. A census of horned stock in Bengal has not yet been attempted or taken, but we know that the export of cow-hides from Calcutta exceeds five millions yearly, and it is not to be assumed that this total represents more than half the number of cattle that die every year. The general rate of mortality among cattle is also unknown, but it has been ascertained, and may be mentioned in this place, that during a period of ten years, from 1860 to 1869, inclusive, the average mortality of stock at the Hissar stud farm was 1,435 a year, or a little over 14 per cent, per annum. Over a small area in Lower Bengal the mortality, after the inundation of 1871, amounted to about 100,000, or ten times the mortality of ordinary years, as evinced by the statistics of hide export; but a supply of cattle was nevertheless obtainable for the next season's sowings, and the stock has since for the most part been replenished. In Assam, where cattle are as exceptionally numerous as they are puny and worthless, it has been estimated that there are fifteen head of cattle for every adult inhabitant. There are Goala families in Bengal, with no cultivation or land for pasturage, in possession of 1,000 or 1,500 head of oattle. More land is, however, annually brought under the plough, and as pasturage becomes scarce the cattle deteriorate in condition. The people are too poor, and cattle are too numerous and valueless, to justify a general resort to Btall-feeding. In exceptional cases it is practised, but as a rule cows and bullocks feed and graze together wherever they can find a fallow, or are allowed to trespass upon a cultivated, piece of land. The grass that grows over the roads often affords in point of fact the most desirable pasturage in the neighbourhood. At the same time the indiscriminate way in which the finest bulls are carried off to Calcutta and elsewhere to work for the municipalities tends further to impair the stock. Brahmini bulls are the only bulls kept for breeding purposes, and near the Presidency at all events their supply is now unequal to the demand. The myriads of cattle in Bengal get annually less and less to eat, and are worse fed; their uses are limited to agricultural, draught, and dairy purposes : the proportion slaughtered for food is infinitesimal. On the other hand, the natural inorease of stock was estimated before the Cattle Plague Commission of 1870 at not less than eighteen or twenty per cent. Individual cultivators may complain of having fewer bullocks now than formerly, but it is doubtful whether upon the whole there has been any considerable diminution of stock. The most competent observers are of opinion that the comparative oheapness of money is a sufficient explanation of the increase in their price. The severest losses and most appalling mortality never seem to affect the area of cultivation. Thousands of cattle are born every year for which there can be no practical use; there is nothing to feed them with, and they perish in swarms by disease and exhaustion induced by hunger. It is a cruel misfortune, and a want of economy in these provinces, that the old Indian rule of setting apart a common grazing ground has been forgotten. The subjeot of food for cattle, and through cattle the importance of making manure for land, are the most vital agricultural questions of the day in India.

The return of cases which have actually occurred in the criminal Cattle oisonin courts of Bengal does not support the

a e-poisomng. theory of the frequency of cattle-poison

ing; on the other hand, there are occasions and localities where the crime has undeniably been found to have assumed a serious magnitude, and to have become a system of organization. It was so in Mymensingh in 1868, in Jessore in 1869. Raids of gangs with poisoning intent are said to have taken place in the Terai on the Nepaul frontier. The occurrence of similar raids has been reported from Hazareebaugh and Noakhally. At the same time the crime is so rare as to be virtually unknown in Balasore, Pooree, Dacca, Backergunge, Furreedpore, Chittagong, Burdwan, Bancoorah, Hooghly, Howrah, Gya, Cooch Behar, and Assam. It seems that the offence is not a common one or increasing within these provinces.

The motive for the orime, when it is committed, is the hide of the The hide traffic animal. The criminals are always

members of the Chamar or Moochee caste, of which at least one family is attached to every village. These people are hereditary skinners and leather-dealers, and under any circumstances would remove the skin of the dead cattle. Their occupation has, however, been stimulated of late years into abnormal activity by the extension of the hide trade from Calcutta. This trade has more than doubled during the last three or four years. The smallest scrap of East Indian leather is not without its value in the Indian market, and slaughtered and dead hides and rejections are sought for with eagerness. The demand at the export towns represented by men and firms with large dealings has spread through a chain of native agency to the village Chamar. The local agents bind down the Chamars by money advances and legal instruments. The effect of this system is obvious, and it may confidently be asserted that three-fourths of the cattle poisoning whioh does take place is the result of these advances. The hide trade has hitherto been unknown in Assam and the Soonderbuns. The trade in slaughtered hides is conducted by Mahomedans, and is above suspicion. It is a matter of keen business. Dacca, Cuttack, Midnapore, Burdwan, Purneah, Patna, Durbhungah, are the principal centres of the trade in the interior of these provinces. The total number of hides of all sorts exported from Calcutta in 1871-72 was 7,571,120, of skins 3,118,484; in 1872-73 of hides 7,003,395, of skins 2,785,109.

With the exception of the western districts, there is no horse breeding -aonm in these provinces; and in Eastern

Bengal generally during the rains, and particularly in Tipperah and Mymensingh, the climate seems to be quite fatal to horses. The breed of horses is supplied to the Military Department and to Europeans from Australia, Arabia, and the North-West Frontier, and from the up-country Government studs. The Bengalee tattoo is indigenous in almost all districts, but is a very poor speoimen of the equine race. The Burmah and Munipooree ponies are of better breed. The Bhootea ponies have also long been famed, and are held in much esteem along the frontier.

The breed of goats is abundant in these provinces. Every villager, fJoats if he can, keeps goats, whioh are looked

after and cherished by his wife and children—the she-goats for their milk, while the male kids are for the most part killed and eaten as kid mutton by the Mahomedan population. The milk is nutritious, but goat's mutton, though relished by those who eat it, is most insipid and unpalatable to a European. The Bengal breed of goats is very poor and indifferent; the Jamoona paharee goats, which are found in all the western distriots, are much larger and finer animals, if not less ungainly, and are a superior stock. Droves of them come down from Behar every cold weather into Bengal for sale. In the eastern and deltaio districts of Bengal, in parts of the

Rajshahye division, in the Cooch eep' Behar and Assam divisions, there is,

on the other hand, little or no habit of sheep breeding. Such sheep as are consumed are imported into these districts from Behar; imported sheep do not thrive in them, but deteriorate greatly in a very few generations. In the Burdwan division there are a large number of hardy sheep of the small, Bengal breed; a few such sheep are to be found in almost every village. In Orissa the same small and hardy breed of sheep prevails; but the demand for mutton is much smaller, and the flocks of sheep are much fewer. The quality of all these sheep is wretched in the extreme. In parts of the Bhaugulpore division, notably in the Sonthal Pergunnahs, sheep are largely bred. But the districts of the Patna division, especially Gya and Shahabad, are the principal homes of sheep breeding. From these districts very large numbers of sheep are driven southwards and eastwards annually to supply the requirements of Calcutta, Bengal, Cooch Behar, and Assam. The number of sheep killed daily in Calcutta and the suburbs is reported to be about 145 head. Probably the annual requirements of Caloutta and the suburbs do not fall short of 50,000 head of sheep during the year. As most of this supply comes from Behar and the western districts, the drain on the sheep resources of those provinces must be very large. Still the stock seems to have borne the drain for many years, and the sheep of Behar continue not only to feed Bengal, but to furnish material for the Patna and Behar blankets, which are so largely exported to the Calcutta and Bengal markets. It is probable that the supply of sheep is on the whole somewhat smaller than it used to be, and the price is certainly higher. The supply of sheep will most likely never be considerable in the warm, damp climate of eastern Bengal and Assam; but there seems no reason why sheep should not thrive well on the Chota Nagpore uplands: while on the hills about Gya, and in Shahabad above the Sonthal Pergunnahs, the supply of sheep will probably increase as the demand for and price of mutton rise. Poultry are reared to meet the demands of the European market.

They are not much eaten by the natives ou ry' themselves. The best poultry in Bengal

are reared at Chittagong and by the Mugh community in the district of Backergunge;

All over Bengal there are the usual local handicrafts, the productions of which are purely to supply Manufactures. I I J J Tit J

local demand. Weaving and the manufacture of cotton thread are the occupation of a large number of inhabitants of every district, and although the extensive imports of cloth and piece-goods from England are driving the finer native fabrics out of the market, the deoline nas been more than compensated by the vast increase of trade and the greater facilities of communications to other trades and industries which, if less artistic, are quite as remunerative

« ПредишнаНапред »