They’re destructive, there are 5 million of them—and they’re sacred
In India, wayward cattle are trampling crops, spreading disease, and causing car accidents. They’re also venerated.
Gurgaon, IndiaAcross India, farmers are becoming their own night security guards—patrolling their harvest and checking on fences or trenches surrounding their land. But their enemies aren’t robbers. They’re stray cattle—and there are more than five million of them.
“A herd can destroy the whole crop in just one hour,” says Anjani Dixit, district head of Rashtriya Kisan Mazdoor Sangathan, a farmer association in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh. Cattle can also become aggressive when threatened: Dixit says the horned animals fatally gored two men in his village.
Stray livestock, which gather at garbage dumps and weave through traffic, lead to thousands of road accidents each year; between 2018 and 2022, they caused more than 900