Mar 17, 2023 I Paul Seaburn

Mysterious 'Silent Black Shadow' Returns to Kill More Sheep in India

In 2017, villagers in the rural eastern Indian state of Odisha were terrorized by a mysterious creature or creatures which attacked, killed and mutilated over 150 sheep in just a few months – causing farmers and residents alike to fear wolves, demons, aliens or one of the many mythical creatures of Indian folklore. Those killings eventually stopped but were never solved. In 2018, the mysterious creature returned again – this time in the Jajpur district of Odisha, with farmers reporting that sheep had been killed and mutilated, with their intestines removed and their blood drained. This time officials blamed a hyena, but rumors of chupacabra or some other mythical monster continued. In 2022, a strange creature was captured in a shop in the Muzaffarpur district of Bihar and locals, along with a local researcher, believed it to be a chupacabra – as with so many of these cases, no follow-up investigation has confirmed it. However, the sheep killings continue, as reports came in this week from Odisha state again – this time in the Cuttack district, where at least 29 sheep were killed in two days by what residents are calling a “silent black shadow.” Does that sound like a chupacabra? How about a man-lion  or a were-tiger or another bloodthirsty mythical Indian creature?

Meanwhile ... the sheep are nervous.

“After a lull of one year, the fear of mysterious creature returned to haunt the residents of Cuttack district with many sheep being killed in the past two days. In a strange recurring and clueless phenomenon, as many as 29 sheep have been killed in the last two days at Gunadola village under Kantapara block in Cuttack district.”

Odisha TV reports on the gruesome and mysterious killings of large numbers of sheep in the Cuttack district. Farmer Babaji Choudhury from Thakura Pokhari ward of the village reported finding 20 dead sheep with visible injuries. A day later in the same ward, Gokulananda Choudhury found nine dead sheep with similar injuries – the intestines were ripped apart. Strangely, no flesh or body parts were consumed or carried away to be eaten later. There was another mystery …

“Local people are surprised not to hear the scream of the sheep when the creature attacked the flock and killed so many of them.”

How could so many sheep be killed in one confined location without uttering a bleat loud enough for the owners or their neighbors to hear? (Photos of the dead sheep and the concerned villagers can be seen here.) While forest and veterinary officials are investigating at the location, villagers reminded them that this has been going on for five years in different parts of Odisha and have never been resolved. The residents want answers and the farmers want compensation and protection. But … from what?

“We heard the barking of dogs around 1 am and manage to notice a black shadow inside the paddock. In addition to those killed, 10 more sheep were injured as a result of the attack.”

Livestock breeder Babaji Choudhury saw the mysterious black shadow, but the media reports did not find any other witnesses. That is not much to go on. While the killings and the drinking of blood could mean a chupacabra, these cryptids are primarily reported in Puerto Rico, Central and South America, and in the U.S. Southwest, which has a variation that is more like a sickly hairless dog than a sheep-killing monster. However, there are a number of India mythical creatures who could be the culprits.

When it comes to shadowy creatures in India, a well-known one is the Nishi – a creature found primarily in the forests of Bengal, Bihar and Jharkhand. These tricksters assume the voice of a potential victim’s loved ones and lures them to a secluded area to kill them. The only description of the Nishi is a shadowy creature, but it generally sticks to human victims, so the Odisha ‘black shadow’ is probably something else.

That something else could be a Tekhumiavi or were-tiger of Nagaland, a mountainous state in northeast India bordering Myanmar. The tekhumiavi is part of the folklore of the Angami tribe, which believes it is the soul of a human transformed into the body of a tiger, leaving the human’s body to continue to walk around without a soul. While the were-tiger looks for victims, the behaves just like a tiger and experiences what the tiger does – including any wounds it might suffer. It is said one can spot a tekhumiavi by counting its claws – a were-tiger has five while a real tiger has only four. Who wants to get close enough to count? Neither sheep nor humans – the legend of the were-tiger has it killing livestock as well as humans.

Could the sheep killer be a were-tiger?

If the ‘black shadow’ of Odisha is neither a chupacabra nor a were-tiger, it could be a Narasimha or man-lion. (Do you detect a theme here?) According to the legend, the god Vishnu wanted to kill Hiranyakasyipu, the asura king, so he took the form of a man-lion form – coming out at twilight to kill with its nails. This sounds like a creature with a very specific purpose … and it isn’t sheep killing.

In fact, that may be the key to solving the mystery – the only animals being killed and mutilated have been sheep. There are certainly plenty of other livestock, pets, small wild animals and even small humans for a mythical predator to kill – why are the black shadow of Odisha and the other past killers in the area so selective? One suggestion in the past is that the sheep are easy to catch and harmless – goats are more aggressive and can stab and slice a predator with their horns. Wolves continue to be the most likely suspect, according to health and wildlife officials, primarily because wolf footprints have been found in some of the incidents and a burrow which could have been used by one for hiding was found at one site. That is not much evidence … and it doesn’t address why the attacks are so infrequent and why none of the dead sheep appear to have been eaten.

As with so many of these mysterious livestock killings, hard evidence – photos of the victims or of the predators – are scarce, while stories by concerned and fearful ranchers and villagers are plentiful and easy to be embellished. One would think that so many sheep killings in such a small area could be solved with some trail or security cameras. Until that happens, the mysterious "silent black shadow’" creature of Odisha will live on.

Paul Seaburn

Paul Seaburn is the editor at Mysterious Universe and its most prolific writer. He’s written for TV shows such as "The Tonight Show", "Politically Incorrect" and an award-winning children’s program. He's been published in “The New York Times" and "Huffington Post” and has co-authored numerous collections of trivia, puzzles and humor. His “What in the World!” podcast is a fun look at the latest weird and paranormal news, strange sports stories and odd trivia. Paul likes to add a bit of humor to each MU post he crafts. After all, the mysterious doesn't always have to be serious.

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