SRINAGAR, Sept 13: Thousands of stray dogs in Kashmir are going pink these days. And, the development has nothing to do with women’s fashion or cause.
Jammu and Kashmir government has started a fresh census of stray dogs in summer capital Srinagar after animal rights activists expressed doubts over the official count of canines by Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC).
“Under the direction of government we have initiated a dog census again in Srinagar. Unlike past, when we had enumerated the whole dog population physically, this time random sampling will be done to estimate total population by using Lincoln Index,” said SMC’s veterinary officer, Javaid Rather.
The Lincoln Index provides a way to measure population sizes of individual animal species using mathematical equations.
The technique involves capturing a sample in various municipal blocks, marking the animals (in Kashmir, pink colour is being used) and then releasing them into the population again. Once animals thoroughly mix into the population over a period of time, the population is re-sampled.
The SMC official said that the task has been handed over to an NGO handling animal welfare issues.
“In the first stage we have selected eight municipal wards,” said Rather.
Official sources revealed that the initiative was taken after Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) ‘doubted’ that the population of dogs in the city was 91,110 as tabled in the state’s legislative assembly last year by minister of state for home and urban development, Nasir Aslam Wani.
The animal husbandry department of the state has also endorsed the figures of SMC. Not explicitly ruling out the intervention of AWBI, SMC commissioner G N Qasba stood by the official count of last year’s census.
“Enumeration of dogs every two years is a norm. It helps us in course correction, including proper waste management to control dog population,” Qasba said.
Stray dog population has become a major issue in the valley after a 100% surge in the number of dog bite cases in the past four years. While civil society wanted the government to cull the population to a reasonable limit, animal right activists, including AWBI, resented the move.
As the number of people bitten by dogs rose to a staggering 18,500 for the year ending March 2011, the government paced up the implementation of its 2001 Animal Birth Control (ABC) programme.
Since May this year, not more than 650 dogs have been sterilised at Suhama centre and dropped back into their habitats by vets indicating that the drive is bound to take time.