Amid sanity calls, sale of torchlight, swords spike

IMPHAL, 2nd Dec: Even as animal rights groups, youth organisations and social activists appealed for exercising maximum restraint, reports of unknown species attacking poultry birds and small animals have triggered panic buying of sharp weapons for defence and torchlight.
Yening Animal Foundation (YAF), Khurai Lamlong, which has been collecting information regarding target on domestic animals by unidentified predators, said that it has installed CCTV cameras with night vision at some places to capture footages of the 'predator'.
In a statement, YAF informed that they have confirmed some incidents of attacks during their survey at different places where the attacks were reported.
Urging the government to take up necessary steps to soothe the nerve of the panic public, YAF appealed to the people to stop further circulation of fake information and support YAF in finding out the truth.
However, demands for torchlight and swords have reportedly increased in the market in the last few days as people want to protect themselves from the attacks of the unknown predators.
In a survey conducted by this daily in Khwairamband market, more specifically at Paona International market, the sale of a sword imported from Myanmar known as Baton sword and long distance torchlight used by military personnel, has spiked up.
A store which used to sell only 4-5 swords in a day earlier is now selling more than 10 swords daily.
Worried over public frenzy and apprehension on the attacks, People for Animals (PFA), Manipur has said that involvement of big pet dogs cannot be ruled out in the attack on domestic animals/fowls by unknown predators as reported from different parts of the state.
PFA also claimed of possessing evidences of involvement of small wildlife like civet (Moirang Sathibi), Feret Badger and jungle cat in the attacks on domestic animals/fowls.
According to a PFA statement, CCTV cameras were installed at a particular site at Chingmeirong where attack on livestock occurred twice recently to confirm footmarks of dogs collected in the first incident. Footage collected from CCTV cameras installed at this particular site by a team led by DFO Central RK Amarjit and PFA confirmed that a big pet dog attacked and bit fowls. Footage collected from a private CCTV camera and photos uploaded on social media of wildlife killed by public at different places of the state also confirmed involvement of Mustelid group wildlife like Civet, Feret Badger and Jungle cat in the attacks on domestic animals/fowls.
While assuming that domestic animals like dogs and cats would have eaten leftover of animals/fowls attacked by Civet, Feret Badger and Jungle cat, PFA appealed to public not to panic by incidents of attack on domestic animal by unknown predators.
On the other-hand, social scientist Dhanabir Laishram has stated that incessant uploading of manipulated videos and pictures of the unknown predator along with baseless rumours is fuelling the fear psychosis sparked by animal attacks in the state.
On one side, every night many people are hunting for the unknown predator with whatever weapons they can find whenever someone cries wolf; while on other side, there are many people who are busy spreading rumours, he noted.
In this regard, Dhanabir said that amidst news of livestock being attacked in the dead of the night, there has been a huge rise in the upload of doctored and fake videos, stories on social media platforms. Such videos have now become more terrifying instead of the real predator that is attacking the livestock. Children, whose parents work late, are living in fear. The people are now in a state of panic and anxiety when evening sets in, he observed.
Appealing to all concerned not to upload or circulate such fake news/rumours, he urged the state government to take requisite steps to quell the people’s fear.
Suggesting that nocturnal animals that have lost their habitat owing to deforestation could be behind the attacks on livestock, Dhanabir opined that predators that are more dangerous could also leave the safety of the forests and start hunting in human territory, "if we do not stop clearing the forestland".
Further maintaining that convergence of an anxious crowd armed with guns and swords every night could lead to unwanted incidents, the social scientist urged the state government to pay serious attention on such convergences and to take up requisite steps on the same.
Chipping in on the animal attacks, Environmental Conservation Network (Eco Network) observed that the series of killing of domestic animals and fowls which is being witnessed might be due to destruction and degradation of natural environment in the name of developmental projects.
A release issued Eco Network convener Kh Rebati Raman pointed out that large scale deforestation is taking place for the construction of power grid lines, railway lines, road expansion, construction of mega dams, exploration and exploitation of natural resources, etc., as a result of which natural habitat of wildlife and food chain is seriously disrupted.
The release conveyed that the organisation is concerned over the loss of livestock and appealed to the government to survey how much livestock have been lost and to provide adequate compensation to those who have suffered the loss.
The organisation reaffirmed that targeting of domestic animals by wild animals is an impact of human’s greed in the name of development which carelessly destroyed their natural forests and habitats where the wild animals are dependent.
The release further appealed to the people and government of Manipur to take steps to rejuvenate and restore the destroyed forests while adding that this will help in prevention of such misfortunes in the long term.

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