BHUBANESWAR: The expert team of Wildlife Institute of India (WII) on Monday put to rest all speculations about the sheep-killer of Niali by suggesting that all evidence point to a wolf behind the hunting. The team comprising Dr Salvador Lyngdoh and Dr Sougata Sadhukhan visited two clusters where similar killings of the domestic animals have been reported. Apart from Niali, Badapathar and Kupati under Ghumsar (North) division were studied by the small carnivore experts during their three-day inspection.
They studied the hunting pattern, landscape and local animal presence apart from evidence gathered by the Forest Department. Altogether 30 incidents in which 98 sheep were killed were taken into account by the team. “From the pug-marks found at Niali cluster, it is clear that the predator is not from feline species because nail marks have been found which is consistent with large Canidae. Wolves have been found in this region and all the patterns point at them behind the killings,” Lyngdoh told a media conference organised by Principal Chief Conservator of Forests SS Srivastava.
He said, the audio samples of howling of wolves and jackals were separately played to villagers who confirmed that the sound belonged to the former.Lyngdoh, a scientist with the WII, described the spate of deaths a result of “surplus killings” by the wolves which, he said has been recorded in UP and Bihar. “They kill to kill. It is a style. When inside a pen with a big group of sheep, which is weak and timid, the wolves just go on a killing spree,” he said.
He said, “surplus killing” is not for food, it is a behavioural pattern which happens during certain periods. During these phases, consumption by these animals is low and young members of the pack take part as is evident in Niali.
The WII team also said that such large number of killings does not require a big population of the predators. One pack of wolves is capable of killing a hundred sheep in one night.In Badapathar near Bhanjanagar, the killer is a hyena and the pugs have proved it. The front and hind paws of hyena are different in size. Faecal matter of hyena was also found to strengthen the conclusion. At Kupati, it is a mix of jackal and hyena, the WII experts said. The team recommended strengthening of protection, compensation for the animal owners as well as monitoring of the wild.
Principal Chief Conservator of Forests SS Srivastava on Monday said the Department has recommended compensation for the villagers who lost their sheep to the attacks.
This would, however, require an amendment in the Wildlife Protection Rules since sheep and goat killings by wolf is not included in the ex gratia norms while bullocks, cows and calves are. The compensation, sources said, could be to the tune of Rs 2,000 per adult animal. But, it would take about a month or two to be finalised and disbursed.