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.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Africa snapsots

We've just returned from a fabulous trip to Tanzania followed by a few days in Cape Town and the beautiful Cape area.

The last two weeks have been filled with spectacular wildlife, ranging from big cats and ostriches to penguins and whales. There was very little time for anything else! But I did of course manage to click a few dogs.

Here they are:

Above, below: Maasai village, Tanzania, somewhere between Serengeti National Park and Ngorongoro Crater. The Maasai, as everyone knows, are nomadic herdsmen. In Tanzania dogs do not seem to be used for guarding livestock on the same scale as in India. This was just my impression and it may be a wrong one, since I was in Africa for only a fortnight. They are used more often as watchdogs, and by some as hunting dogs, though not by the Maasai - this tribe doesn't hunt, they kill and eat only their own cattle. Only two of the many herds we saw were accompanied by dogs.

In this village we visited there were only four dogs (and 74 humans).

Above, below: This little brown bitch was the only healthy and well-fed one of the four. Two of the dogs were painfully thin and looked as if they wouldn't live long. However, this village may have been an exception, as all the other dogs we saw on our travels seemed healthy and well-cared-for. Probably the people here are very poor and don't have much food to spare. The landscape is quite barren in this area and life must be very hard.

These dogs were wary of strangers, and apparently not used to much petting. They didn't allow me to touch them. In fact, the bitch above wasn't really comfortable with even these villagers touching her.

Below: We met this handsome dog accompanying a herd of goats and two little Maasai boys, up on the rim of the Ngorongoro Crater. The dogs are very like our INDogs, but with bushier tails.

I didn't have time to click dogs elsewhere, though we did pass through villages occupied by another tribe, the Sukuma. They don't follow a traditional lifestyle like the Maasai, and the villages are much more prosperous and "mainstream." There were quite a few dogs lying around, all healthy and well-looked-after.

Our guide told us that vaccination of dogs against rabies is compulsory, and that the government vets do this free at regular intervals. Unvaccinated dogs are shot. Obviously, this is a very strong incentive for people to get their dogs immunized. The rule sounds harsh, but perhaps such draconian measures are needed to shake dog-owners out of their apathy. After all, if protection against rabies is provided free, there is really no excuse for not availing of it.

Another dreaded canine disease comes to mind while speaking of Tanzania: Canine Distemper Virus (CDV). In 1994 domestic dogs transmitted this virus to the lions in Serengeti National Park, resulting in the death of 1000 of these magnificent big cats. In fact, in the 1990s the Wild Dog population there was wiped out by CDV, and apparently they started making a comeback in the area only after the domestic dogs around the park were vaccinated against the disease.

I wonder when our Indian powers-that-be will understand the catastrophic consequences of these diseases for humans and animals. Are they aware that both the diseases are easily preventable? Even if they were smart enough to comprehend this simple information, it's unlikely that they would take any action. Can you imagine our authorities actually going around vaccinating dogs? That kind of thing is left to more intelligent and civilized nations. Stupidity and ignorance are the hallmarks of Indian officialdom, and we can only expect foolish policies that benefit neither man nor beast.

For those who think I'm being unnecessarily sarcastic, I am repeating a fact I mentioned in this earlier post: some of our municipal corporations are reported to actually capture street dogs from cities and villages and release them in wildlife areas, including in places like the Gir forest - last home of the Asiatic Lion - and the Rann of Kutch, home of the endangered Asiatic Wild Ass. A shining example of our government's attitude towards our vanishing wildlife, which they are supposed to be protecting. It's hard to imagine the plight of the poor dogs left in such areas.

So, back to Africa after that tirade. The dog below is not a Pariah Dog or any other type of African dog; he belongs to another ancient breed, the famous Anatolian Shepherd Dog or "Kangal." I photographed him in Stellenbosch not far from Cape Town, in the premises of a cheetah protection organization called Cheetah Outreach.

So what's a Turkish shepherd dog got to do with cheetahs? He's part of an interesting programme that provides these dogs to farmers in the region, as a non-lethal method of protecting livestock against cheetahs and other wild predators. The dogs are huge. Apparently the programme has had encouraging results in South Africa and Namibia.

And finally, the dogs we spent the longest time with in South Africa were two Indian dogs: Rishi and Leela! But I'm saving those pictures for another post.

Ngorongoro Conservation Area,Tanzania
Stellenbosch, South Africa

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