Farmers in the Niali district of India are reporting a series of horrific sheep mutilations that has seen five sheep killed in three separate villages this week. All of the sheep were found eviscerated with their livers almost surgically removed through their abdomens. Unidentified footprints have been found near the scenes of the crimes, reports local news outlet Kalinga TV, but the identity of the animal (or whatever) responsible is still unknown. These new mutilations bring this month’s death toll to close to thirty sheep.
It seems something has developed a taste for sheep in the rural Niali region of India. Over the last few months, hundreds of sheep have been brutally slain and mutilated despite the best efforts of forest officials and local wildlife experts. The culprit has never been caught, much less identified. Local shepherd Nilamani Das told Times of India that sheep farmers in the area are terrified by the unexplained killings which follow the pattern of a series of mutilations earlier this year:
We sustained huge losses after our sheep were killed by unknown animal in June. We were not compensated also. With much difficulty we started our lives again and see the predator has come again to haunt us.
Forest officials, meanwhile, are clueless, replying only with “We are trying our best to catch the killer animal.” Sheep farmers have taken to guarding their flocks at night and even sleeping among the animals to protect them from whatever could lurk in the shadows.
While these killings sound awfully reminiscent of many mythological creatures like the Chupacabra, the animal's identity and motivation is likely a much sadder tale. Changing climate patterns and continued human population growth have pushed many once-elusive animals into direct contact with humans. Unfortunately, this growth has meant bringing our livestock directly to these predators whose once plentiful prey and habitat are now long gone. Sure, maybe it's a horrible nightmarish beast. But maybe, though, the creature is us. Maybe we are the nightmarish beast, bumbling our way towards causing a mass extinction with our insatiable growth. Until the killer in Niali is caught, there’s no telling for sure what might be prowling in the darkness.