It’s been a bad year to be a sheep in India. Something has been prowling the rural farmlands of Eastern India, mutilating and eating hundreds of poor, defenseless sheep. Well, only eating parts of them – the delicious internal organs to be precise. In many of the attacks, the unknown predator was found to have removed only the animals’ livers with near-surgical precision. Speculation about the killer’s identity runs wild, and officials have yet to catch the elusive beast – or whatever it is.
Just this week, farmers in the Kendujhar District of eastern India discovered more killings to add to the recent sheep death toll. Local news station Odisha TV reports that a “mysterious animal” has killed two of local farmer Sidhu Munda’s sheep in Kasia village, and as in previous cases, the livers of the sheep have been removed. One local official reassured the public that while the offending creature is still out there, farmers will be compensated for any similar mutilations:
An unidentified animal seems to have attacked the sheep in Kasia village last night. It attacked five sheep, of which two are dead and three others have been injured. I will inform the matter to higher authorities and the farmer will get compensation as applicable.
Good ol’ government bailouts. There’s always money for those fat cat sheep farmers, but what about the little guy? While any news of an unidentified creature lurking about at night eating sheep livers is excellent fodder for the imagination, the reality is that this is likely another unfortunate side-effect of human activity. As humans continue to multiply and take over more and more of the previously natural world, it’s inevitable that we will begin to have contact and conflict with animal populations which were once elusive. Could these mystery predators simply be wild dogs or large cats whose typical sources of food have been lost to urbanization and/or climate change? Is that any less frightening than a large mystery beast?