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.

Monday, September 8, 2008

The INDog-Dhangar-Karwani - mix-breeds of the Deccan Plateau



Above:
A pure INDog, very rare in the area
Below: "Indian" mix-breeds
typical of the Western Deccan











Last weekend I saw a completely different type of mix-breed from the Indo-Eurobreed kind we normally see in cities. For the first time, this was a completely “Indian” mutt!

My husband and I were visiting the grasslands of the Solapur area of the western Deccan Plateau. This is a very different landscape from the forested areas I’ve visited before: these are vast open savannas as far as the eye can see, dotted with herds of beautiful blackbuck (Indian Antelope)…alternating oddly with cattle, goats and sheep. Cows and goats wander into protected areas, wolves prey on livestock, blackbuck graze anywhere they like and dogs run into the sanctuary nearby. Understandably there is a lot of conflict and controversy over all this… It seems particularly hard to keep domestic and wild animals isolated from each other in such a place; at least that’s what I, with my limited knowledge, concluded.


Of course I went on my usual search for pure INDogs, but they are a very rare sight here, indeed close to non-existent. This is sheep country and hare country and blackbuck country, so two very interesting Indian dog breeds predominate: the thick-coated Dhangar Dog (sheep dogs of Maharashtra) and the thin, elegant sighthound known as Karwani, Caravan Hound or Mudhol Hound.

Almost all the pet and free-roaming dogs here are a mix of INDog, Dhangar and Karwani, in varying proportions. Villagers use them as livestock guardians. The pure INDog in the first picture is one of the very few I saw in this region; the other dogs shown are typical of the area.


A far less pleasant sight was the huge amount of garbage liberally strewn around all the villages. There seems to be no system of garbage disposal, and this is probably the reason for the scattered population of scavenging dogs living in the area (at least so I would imagine going by the universal connection between garbage and dogs). As always, both dogs and wild animals have to pay the price for human sloppiness.


A long-term solution is possible if the local administration would set up a sustainable system for prompt waste disposal, at the same time educating villagers about the issue. It could be done if the authorities would shake off their apparent apathy on this subject: but then in India there is such a deeply-ingrained acceptance of garbage as part of the scenery that no-one even notices or comments on it. As a society we are just not civic-minded and this is the root cause of many of our problems.

Over the years I have had little reason to believe that anyone has the will or common sense to go in for large-scale long-term solutions. I can’t help hoping for one though, and I’m offering up my completely unimportant opinion for what little it’s worth.

Solapur District,
Maharashtra

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Dear Rajashree, I am very impressed with this blog and the gamuth of information you have offered. Hats off to you! It was a pleasure reading it. And yes, I am an Indian Pariah Dog Fan. Love, Gargi.

Rajashree Khalap said...

Thanks Gargi! I really love working on it and it's so nice when people like it.

Anonymous said...

Are the Dhangar and Karwani indigenous natural species or are they man made by cross breeding?

Rajashree Khalap said...

People mostly believe the Karwani/ Mudhol is descended from Salukis brought to India by Arab caravans (hence the name). But recent tests by Cornell show they are genetically closer to INDogs than to West Asian dogs. Perhaps both were simply bred from the village INDogs for very specific functions i.e. livestock guarding and hunting, so their appearance changed over generations to best suit the function...This must have happened in other parts of the world too. In fact that is how "breeds" were originally created, dogs were selectively bred for their aptitude at a particular job and not for blue eyes or spots or long ears or any other such superficial traits. The shaggy coat of Dhangar dogs could have developed to protect them from cold winter winds on the plateau. Just conjecture but I think it's possible it happened this way.