Blackbuck – Feral Dog Conflict, Vetnai

by Pitam Chattopadhyaya
Pitam Chattopadhyaya

Chosen as 'Picture of the Week'

As CI has highlighted time and again, feral dogs are a menace to wildlife in many areas. This issue needs a proper study -- and remedial measures, where necessary.

The romanticism of Jack London’s ‘The Call of the Wild’ evaporates fast when one considers the feral dog scourge in the country. I have witnessed several occasions where feral dogs are are still being pampered despite creating serious social and ecological problems.  Man’s best friend is not wildlife’s best friend.

We witnessed a feral dog chase a Blackbuck (Antilope cervicapra) in Vetnai or Bhetnai sanctuary (in Ganjam district of Odisha) in July 2015. Luckily for the buck, my guide and I chased the dog away from the area. The guide reflected the community’s genuine concern towards the escalating dog–buck conflict. It would be helpful if the community, along with the government’s help, could work on mitigation measures like sterilising and vaccinating (against rabies and other diseases) the dog populations, as well as managing / containing garbage.

Vetnai is known for its 1600 blackbucks, which roam freely in a 40 sq. km. area. The sanctuary covers an undulating landscape with the backdrop of the rugged Eastern Ghats. Interestingly, the locals revere the blackbuck and consider them harbingers of rain, abundant crop and good fortune — gifts from the Gods. The villagers do not hunt blackbuck inspite of the mounting crop damage resulting from an increase in the blackbuck population. The locals have even formed their own ‘Blackbuck Protection Committee” and anyone caught poaching or injuring the blackbuck is reprimanded by the committee.

Read more about the feral dog menace on Conservation India.



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