M A I N   N E W S

Bakerwali shepherd dog breed on the verge of extinction
Ishfaq Tantry/TNS

Srinagar, September 23
The famous shepherd dog species of Kashmir - Bakerwali - is facing threat of extinction. The Gujjar-Bakerwal tribes have been using this rugged breed of canines to protect their livestock from wild animals since centuries. But now their number is fast declining.

A survey carried by Tribal Research and Cultural Foundation (TRCF), an NGO working on tribal affairs in J-K, has found that the Bakerwali breed may soon be extinct if steps for its protection are not taken. There are approximately only 700- 800 dogs of this breed are left in the state, say sources.

Concerned, the NGO has taken up the matter with the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests and wants the breed to be declared as an ‘endangered species.’

The NGO attributes the decline in the number of Bakerwali dogs to many factors.

“The Bakerwali shepherd dog, an ancient working breed of Central Asian origin, is only found in the Hindukush and Himalayan belt of the Indian subcontinent. The nomadic tribes like Gujjars have bred and domesticated these dogs as a livestock guardian and settlement protector,” says Dr Javed Rahi, TRCF secretary. The Gujjar-Bakerwal tribe, around 2.5 lakh in number, move as nomads in the higher reaches to graze their livestock.

As this breed is an excellent watchdog and quickly alerts its owner about intruders, it is targeted by militants and security personnel who don’t want to disclose their location during an operation or while making a move. Over two decades of turmoil in the Valley has seen killing of over 6,000 Bakerwali dogs. “Both militants and securitymen are killing these dogs,’ says an NGO member.

There is also a biological reason behind the decrease in the number of these dogs, says Rahi. A female Bakerwali dog gives birth to only one pup in one year as compared to other breeds which have a litter of 4-6 pups on an average.

The survey has also blamed smuggling - Bakerwali is a sought-after breed in domestic and foreign markets due to its qualities - for a dip in the number of these dogs.

Not many left

  • Over 6,000 Bakerwali dogs have been killed during the insurgency period in J-K.
  • The dog is targeted both by militants and security personnel to avoid being detected
  • Low birth rate, smuggling and infection deaths are other few reasons for the decline in their number





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