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Dog and Bull
Published by Ambika Aiyadurai and Surendra Varma, 01 Dec 2003
An investigation into carnivore-human conflict in and around Itanagar Wildlife Sanctuary, Arunachal Pradesh
It took just one phone call from the field to launch a Rapid Action Project in Arunachal Pradesh, that has over the years resulted in this occasional report ‘Dog and Bull’. The phone was from an agitated field officer, who had just attended a village elder’s (Gaon Burrhas) meeting in Sagalee, near Itanagar in Arunachal Pradesh. He had heard their vow to eradicate all the carnivores of their surroundings due to the menace of wild dogs eating their traditionally prized, semi-wild cattle, the mithun, and had rung up requesting immediate action. This tribal  pronouncement could well have been carried out had a rapid project not been conceived of to meet the needs of the local populace. And in this instance, the rapid project was nothing more than sending a senior field scientist, Surendra Varma, with the concerned field officer, Sunil Kyarong to work with the local communities to understand and alleviate the conflict. Two other field biologists worked on this project for differing lengths of time but  basically all of them worked to defuse the potentially combustive situation.

It is gratifying to know that neither did the threat of wiping out carnivores actually take place, nor were there any large scale depredations reported from that area since then. More importantly, the locals, for the time that the project was ongoing, took out a  proclamation protecting wildlife in the area. There was also subsequent governmental support to the villagers as a result of a specific recommendation of the report, that of corralling livestock. Man-animal conflict is nothing new globally but is likely to see an increasing trend over the years. Conservation actions such as this, seek to find locale-specific remedies to these problems and to implement them. This Occasional Report is the result of a very small, focused project but one which has lessons for many others across India.

Vivek Menon
Executive Director
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