Dogs are humans’ oldest friends but are currently serving a dubious pursuit in Punjab. The malady of poaching using dogs as fiendish killers is spreading to Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Rajasthan. Ingenious poachers —- not daring to use firearms in the age of mobile-driven rapid communication alerts or not possessing the resources to buy weapons — use pure and blended-breed dogs to hunt down virtually any wild thing that comes their way : mongooses, birds, monitor lizards, porcupines etc. Videos of creatures squealing in terror, piercing pain and helplessness as dogs savage them to the delight of the stony poachers is heart-rending.
But when pitted against Wild boars, dogs suffer grievous wounds because a pugnacious pig is the most formidable of foes. Bull terriers and other breeds known for their die-hard spirit and refusal to back off from a dangerous encounter are preferred for bringing down boars. A boar when wounded turns with all its might — and in consonance with the ”cornered rat syndrome” — on the dogs. The boar puts its lethal tusks to ruthless use in self-defence, charging at aggressor dogs, gashing their flanks and boring the soft-skinned dogs into a bloody mess. No matter how strong or gutsy the dog is, a big boar is more than a match for a lone dog. Only a pack sniping at the quarry from all quarters gets the diehard pig down. Dogs have often left the battle wounded and on occasion, dead.
Shikari tales from the Terai jungles recount battles of outsized boars with tusks going several inches (from root tips to protruding part, 6-8 inches) and curving upwards like warrior mustaches. Such a boar, that dwells alone, can be irascible and will think nothing of challenging a hungry tiger. Tales of such a boar battling a tiger are part of the Terai shikar lore, the clash of titans said to have raged all night. Dawn revealed a jungle floor etched in guts and gore. The boar was dead but not before he had left the king licking severely-insulting wounds.
Hard evidence of poaching and dogs wounded by boars is available in the public domain as videos and pictures are put up on social media by killers. These go viral and newer poachers sprout. Poachers have lent impudence to their illegal acts by brazenly uploading self-indicting evidence. Abhinav Srihan of Fauna Police has collected 1,224 pictures and videos and forwarded these to wildlife authorities at State / Central levels.
no action Srihan is left alone, piling up evidence. Creatures are left to perish in the loud purges of a silent spring.
‘Aliens’ in the garden
The Barn owl is the most widely distributed of the owl species across the world. It bears a quarter face that looks very much like a human heart. But like all matters of the heart, a tinge of sadness is never too far away because the owls are misconstructed as creatures of bad omen and persecuted. However, a family of Barn owls had the good fortune to virtually fall into the lap of nature-loving Opinder Kaur Sekhon of Sector 2, Chandigarh.
Let us turn to what Sekhon had to say: “I was hearing birds behaving strangely near the tree outside our boundary wall. I told my daughter that if birds behave like this then there must be a cat or snake around. When I went to our lawn and neared the particular tree, I saw an owl staring down at me. The more I tried to attract his attention, the more it started looking at me. I thought the owl resembled an alien. Later, we saw that the owl had an offspring almost in front of it but concealed in the parent’s belly. Ten days later, it was a beautiful rainy day in Chandigarh. The two owls were again peeping out of their abode.”