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Padma Shri Dr Sosamma Iype: A Life Dedicated To The Conservation Of Vechur Cows

Sosamma Iype’s journey with the Vechur cow began with a quest to write an article for a college magazine about the once readily available native cows. Concerned about the native variety of cows, Sosamma took on the role of foster mother for the Vechur cows. For three decades, she dedicated her life to these cows and saved them from the brink of extinction.

Sosamma Iype is an Indian animal conservationist and Padma Shri recipient. She has earned the title “Mother of Vechur Cows” for dedicating her life to the defence of Vechur cows.


Sosamma Iype was born in 1941 in Niranam village of Tiruvalla in Pathanamthitta district.She held positions at the Kerala Veterinary University as a professor and researcher. After receiving her PhD from the National Dairy Research Institute in Karnal, Haryana, Sosamma served as the Head of the Genetics and Animal Breeding Department at the Kerala Veterinary University. In 2001, she resigned from her job as Director of Kerala Veterinary University’s National Bureau of Animal Genetics. Sosamma has been actively connected with Vechur Conservation Trust since its founding in Kerala as an NGO dedicated to the protection of birds and domestic animals.


The support of her husband, the late Abraham Varkey, was immense. They have two children, Rebecca Varghese and George C. Abraham. Sosamma currently lives in Mannuthy in the Thrissur district.

Breeding Policy

The state government changed the cow breeding policy in the 1960s to enhance milk production. As a result, there was widespread interbreeding between local cattle and foreign kinds of bulls. Native breeds like Vechur cows saw a drop in number and were at grave risk of extinction.

Mission On Preserving Pure Varieties

During the investigation in 1986–1987, Sosamma and her students discovered that pure breeds of Vechur cows were disappearing. As a result, they started searching for pure varieties in the southern districts of Kottayam and Alappuzha. When the mission started, four or five cows were brought to the university barn and cared for by the students. The number of cows began to rise gradually.

The authenticity of the cows was checked when they were delivered to the breeding division to determine whether they were hybrids. Additionally, the squad had found some Vechur bulls and they facilitated breeding using them.

Difficulties In Her Way

Her path eventually led to recognition and appreciation for her achievements, but the process was fraught with obstacles including professional rivalry, counter-campaigns, and coordinated attempts at character assassination.

There was terrible poisoning on the farm, which claimed the lives of several cows about a year later. Despite additional inquiries, the perpetrators remain unknown. There was yet another argument over the vechur cows. An environmentalist asserted in 1998 that Scotland’s Roslin Institute had copyrighted the vechur cattle breed’s DNA. It created a stir in the Indian scientific world. She faced a lot of opposition as she worked to protect the cattle. After two years of research, the claim was found to be false.

Vechur Conservation Trust

Following all the problems, Sosamma saw the significance of creating a trust to include a community partnership in this endeavour and did so in 1998. It was to boost both the researchers’ and farmers’ engagement and support. Currently, the trust provides semen from purebred bulls and embryos from vechur cows to farmers.

Despite widespread opposition campaigns, the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) gave full support to the project.

As a source of inspiration

Vechur’s experiment has inspired the nation to save 28 endangered native species and veterinary experts and institutions.

Vechur Cow: Rebirth

She has authored a book titled ‘Vechur Pashu: Rebirth’ based on her experiences in rescuing Vechur cows.


Sosamma received the Food and Agriculture Organisation Award, the India Biodiversity Award 2016 from the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the Indian Ministry of Forest, Environment and Climate Change and the National Biodiversity Authority of India. Her contributions, which included safeguarding the Vechur cow, earned her the country’s highest honour, the Padma Shri in 2022.

With the aid of the Agricultural University, Sosamma was able to save the cows. As a result of her hard work, the Vechur cow from Kerala is one of the 30 breeds recognised by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research. Due to Dr Sosamma’s efforts, there are about 6,000 Vechur cows in Kerala. Sosamma remained committed to her objective despite numerous controversies. That unwavering courage and tireless efforts contributed to the expansion of Vechur cow populations and the preservation of pure breeds. Sosamma is enjoying retired life by actively participating in the conservational activities of the NGO.