Although a four-member team from the Indian Veterinary Research Institute (IVRI) in Bareilly believes that dogs are killing children in Khairabad, animal rights activist and wildlife expert Kamna Pandey does not agree. She claims the killers could be some wild animal but they certainly are not dogs.
“We inspected the affected area and collected samples for further investigation,” said IVRI director RK Singh, claiming that prima facie the attacks seem to have been perpetrated by dogs. But he kept the door open for other possibilities, saying things could be confirmed only after laboratory investigations of the biological samples were done.
However, Pandey said it was impossible for stray dogs to attack children in this way. “It could be anything -- feral dogs, dholes (Indian wild dogs, an endangered species), hyenas or even wolves – as all are hunting species. But community dogs (strays) are not hunters, they are 100 per cent scavengers, habitually surviving on leftovers.”
She claimed the predators were unidentified animals. They couldn’t be dogs, which were always territorial, and they couldn’t make kills in village by village, she added.
“They are reportedly stronger, taller and healthier than strays. Their jaw is heavy with a wide snout. Their fore limbs are believed to be heavier than the hind and the body is hairy with a bushy tail. The colour ranges from dark brown to light brown and, in some cases, spotted also, very much like the hyena and unlike stray dogs,” she said.
“It is impossible for stray dogs to strike in a series in one and a half hours within a periphery of 20-22 km. After one attack, they can’t reach a village 22 km away in an hour to make another kill,” she said, adding that even if they did, they would be too exhausted to attack anyone.