About Me

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Mumbai, India
I'm a landrace dog fancier, birder and amateur arachnologist. Founder of the INDog Project (www.indog.co.in) and the INDog Club. Before that, worked with urban free-ranging dogs of Mumbai from 1993-2007. Also a wildlife conservationist working in the tiger reserves of central India with Satpuda Foundation.

This blog is for aboriginal breed enthusiasts. It is part of the INDog Project www.indog.co.in. Only INDogs (Indian Pariah) and INDog-mix mongrels are featured here. The two are NOT the same, do please read the text on the right to understand the difference. Our aim: to create awareness about the primitive natural breed called the Indian Pariah Dog/INDog. I sometimes feature other landrace breeds too.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

INDogs of the Vidarbha region

Above: An INDog surveys his realm in Navegaon

Above: INDogs have a seasonal breeding cycle (like many other primitive breeds). This brown bitch was getting a lot of attention from the male dogs of Bamangaon at the time of my visit. The black dog was her favourite beau.

Above: Two INDogs in Bamangaon - what a pity the brown one had lost half his tail

Above: This male got bitten on his paw in a mating fight in Bamangaon

Above: Bamangaon - a cool spot for a siesta

Above: A young livestock-guardian dog on the Moharli-Chandrapur road

Above: A perfect INDog in Jamni. It was the last day of the Ganesh Chaturthi festival, and pink colour (and alcohol) seemed to have flowed freely in the village. A few of the dogs had also been smeared with colour; not this one though.

Above: Jamni. Two village lads strike a pose, unfortunately obscuring part of this INDog from view

Above: Jamni - an INDog stands amid signs of the morning's revelry

Above: Jamni - we had lunch at the home of the Sarpanch (elected village head) and his dog Raju modelled for me later

Above: A rather nervous bitch in Moharli. Village dogs aren't used to people staring at them, and it took this dog a long time to raise her ears and tail from a submissive position.

These pictures were taken on a recent trip to the Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve, in the beautiful Vidarbha region of eastern Maharashtra. I had the opportunity to spend time in six remote villages in and around the forest. The seventh village I visited was Moharli, not so remote but also on the periphery of the forest. (The presence of villages and domestic dogs in forests is highly controversial but this is not the right forum for discussing that topic).

One thing that intrigued me was that at least 50% of the dogs in the villages were mongrels (with dropped ears and longer fur than the norm). All the more odd as the highway between the forest and the nearest town, Chandrapur, had only pure INDogs, all conforming to the "long-term pariah morphotype" (see my May 11, 2008 post). It seems that at some point of time, mix-breeds or breeds other than INDogs must have been brought into the villages from some distance away, as the pure INDogs from the immediate neighbourhood could not have caused this hybridization.

I was told by someone from Moharli that there used to be many more dogs in the village earlier, before hunting was banned. Unpalatable as this may be to us modern Indian animal-lovers, the use of dogs for hunting goes back to the dawn of our history, and forest tribes and communities have always valued dogs for this purpose. After the ban, dog ownership has dropped a lot in the area, for which I can only be thankful. The dogs are now used as watchdogs and livestock -guardian dogs.

In areas where wildlife is understandably the centre of attention, my pursuit of dogs arouses much amused curiosity. This sometimes seriously hampers my progress, with villagers wanting to be included in photographs, even dragging out their own dogs for me to shoot. But then that's all part of the deal when you go "dogwatching" in rural India. Of course I use the opportunity to tell everybody that desi dogs are the best!

Chandrapur district,
Vidarbha region,


Red Eyes said...

Hello again, what a unique breed of dogs in such a unique region. Poor things and I feel a lot for them. It however gladdens my heart to know you are a wildlife lover. All my British friends have a great love of wildlife. You are my new blogger friend as you can see I keep returning here and I am ever so adamant and willing to learn from you.


Have you read any books by salman rushdie? Hope to see you on red eyes

Rajashree Khalap said...

Hi, yes I am very interested in wildlife and am almost fanatical about tigers in particular, and also dholes (Indian wild dogs)and wolves...and sunbirds and vultures and a host of other creatures! I try to spend some time in wildlife areas every month. And I volunteer with the Satpuda Foundation, a wildlife conservation NGO in central India.

Every species is like a whole new world to discover and it is exhilarating to get even the most fleeting glimpse into all those enormously varied lives, lived parallel to our own. And yet the basic drives are exactly the same across all species including us humans. I am more and more overwhelmed by my own ignorance and I realize how little we really know even about the dog, our so-called "best friend"...so all I can do is keep watching and recording and hoping for enlightenment some day!