Throughout 2017 and 2018 a series of mysterious animal attacks have left many rural Indian shepherds and farmers rattled. Whole flocks of sheep have been left eviscerated with only their livers missing or their blood seemingly sucked right out of their woolly little bodies. Things then took a turn for the worse and the weird earlier this year when the culprit - whatever it is - was reported to attack a dozen villagers in eastern India in their sleep.
The attacks continued late into 2018 with the vicious slaughter of over 40 ducks in late November. Despite the frequency of the attacks and the fact that over 150 animals were slaughtered, the identity of the creature behind the killings remained unknown. In response to these unexplained livestock mutilations, the State Government of Manipur launched an investigation earlier this year, calling in scientists from the Wildlife Institute of India were to install remote cameras and gather evidence in an attempt to identify whatever may be behind these recent attacks. According to local news reports, those scientists have finally identified what was behind the killings: dogs. Wait, dogs? Plain old dogs ate the livers of whole flocks of sheep and drained the blood from pigs?
Manipur Forest and Environment Minister Thounaojam Shyamkumar told reporters this week that the “Wildlife Institute of India (WII), who have been conducting the probe on the string of attacks on livestock have collected enough evidence to conclude that the attacks were carried out by stray dogs. We will take all possible measures to control this menace. These dogs prowling in the streets and villages could turn to man if they get infected with rabies.”
Scientists concluded that “poor and unhygienic husbandry practice and open garbage” contributed to the dogs’ attacks. While I don’t doubt that packs of feral dogs pose problems in rural places where livestock are commonplace, I’m dubious of any explanations presented without evidence. Where are the photographs of these dogs? Casts of their footprints? Not even a single liver-filled scat sample?
While I’m sure this explanation is sure to calm the nerves of some of the shepherds affected by the string of attacks, it seems too tidy. Until I see a sad, mangy mutt caked in blood and sheep liver in a wire crate at a press conference, I’m still going with an Indian cousin of the chupacabra.