Gujjar, Bakerwal communities want it to be included in list protected species

The Gujjar and the Bakerwal communities have expressed apprehensions that the Bakerwali Shephered Dog may disappear from the scene due to indifference of authorities and demanded that it may be enlisted as “endangered species.”

However, Jammu and Kashmir government says that there was no major threat to the dog and it was ready to draw a conservation plan.

The concern about this “special” dog going extinct was expressed during a programme organised by Tribal Research and Cultural Foundation (TRCF) in Jammu recently. Highlighting the importance, the speakers said that it was an inalienable part of the Gujjar and Bakerwal community. It strives for its livelihood by taking sheep and goats to the meadows in different parts of the state. “But diseases like rabies have caught them and their number is dwindling,” a speaker said.

According to experts, the Bakerwali dog is different from a common dog in many ways. It is vegetarian — it only feeds on milk and bread made of maize. This helps to keep it away from attacking the flock. Birth rate among the Bakerwali dogs is also low as compared to common dogs. TRCF secretary Javed Rahi said only few hundred such dogs are left now and if “due care is not taken the Bakerwali dog will disappear.” He said no proper survey has been conducted by the government or any of two Agriculture Universities in the State.

In order to ensure the protection of these dogs, the TRCF has shot of a letter to Union Environment Minister Jayanti Natrajan and demanded that “rarest-of-rare traditional and indigenous species of world famous Bakerwali dog be included in the list protected species of India.”

Sharing the contents of the communiqué, Dr. Rahi said, that letter reads that “Bakerwali dog” is distinctive with nomadic Gujjars and Bakerwals from the times immemorial and this rugged, courageous and serious shepherd dog was among the most threatened species in the world and is at the verge of extinction due to numerous reasons including, steep decline in nomadic lifestyle of Gujjars and Bakerwals who settled down in warmer areas. “The Scheduled Tribe Gujjar, Bakerwal community constitute around 20 per cent of the population of State and a big chunk of these tribes are nomad,” he said.

Speaking toThe HinduFarooq Ahmed Kaloo, Director of Department of Animal Husbandry, however, said there was no major threat to them.

But “we are ready to draw a conservation plan and help the community with breeding etc.”