‘Dogs responsible for livestock killing’

IMPHAL, 6th Dec: Wildlife Institute of India (WII) scientist Dr Gopi said that all the incidents of livestock killings in the state were carried out by domestic/stray dogs except for two cases in Bishnupur and Bashikhong (Imphal East), which were carried out by Chinese Ferret Badger and Leopard Cat or Feral Cats respectively.
Addressing a press conference at conference hall of forest department near Sanjenthong on Thursday, Dr Gopi said that a team of scientists arrived at Imphal on December 2 to investigate widespread killing of livestock in the state following a request from the state government. Soon after arrival, the team held discussions with state authority about the incidents and collected evidences by visiting the incident sites.
During a visit at Sangaiprou, the team found footprints that belong to animal of canid family. As per official record, the only animals found in the state in canid family are fox, pet dogs and free ranging dogs. The team then set up camera traps in three potential locations in Sangaiprou and found evidences of free ranging dogs attacking the livestock.
On December 3, the team received reports of similar incidents at Chingmeirong, Langthabal and Wangjing. With the help of camera traps, the team collected evidences of free ranging dogs attacking the livestock in these places also. At the same time, footprints found in other locations and the manner of killing also narrowed down on canid animals for the incidents.
Responding to posers regarding the reason for such widespread activities, Dr Gopi said that November and December are breeding season for dogs and they need more food intake in such times. As such, free ranging dogs roam in groups and prey on livestock. Such incidents are seasonal and happen everywhere during the cold winter season. However, excessive reporting through social media made it look like widespread incident, he contended.
He further informed that the incidents in Manipur is not the first of its kind in the country. There were incidents of killing 136 chickens on a single day in Kerala in 2016 and killing of several sheeps in Odhisa in 2017. As per report, free ranging dogs kill an average of 88 domestic livestock of different species every year in the country and 100 in the world. So far, 162 domestic livestock were killed in 42 incidents in Manipur this year, he added.
Ruling out hunting by predators or supernatural causes, Dr Gopi said that social media made it look like a major phenomenon and there is no need to panic. He then recommended strengthening garbage and waste management policy; proper husbandry practices; keeping stray and owned dogs under control (dog management); strengthening veterinary interventions; monitoring wildlife in the region to avoid unwanted loss; and in-depth study on behaviour and control of free ranging dogs that may cause loss to wildlife to prevent similar incidents.
Principal chief conservator of forest K Angami, top officials of forest department, WII scientists and experts were also present at the press conference.

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