Sheep deaths: Alert Naraj residents gird up their loins

Cuttack: With sticks, sharp weapons and torch lights in their hands, residents of Gopalsahi in Naraj area of Cuttack are spending sleepless nights in panic unleashed by the recent sheep deaths.

“We have been guarding the sheep for last 2 days as we are scared of our livestock’s safety,” a sheep rearer of Gopalsahi, Santosh Kumar Das, said.

In the last one week, as many as 18 sheep have been found dead in multiple instances following which Forest department officials are leaving no stone unturned to ensure protection of the animals and create awareness among the locals. The officials have even distributed torch lights and traps to the local residents to catch the suspected predators.

Some local residents have claimed that a mysterious animal could be behind the attack. However, when an OTV team visited the area around 12:30 AM today, a pack of stray dogs were found circulating around a stable. Subsequently, one of them entered the enclosure and attacked a sheep. While the sheep suffered minor injuries, in no time, some locals managed to chase away the dogs.

“We saw some stray dogs attacking a sheep following which we immediately chased them away. I feel the same dogs could have killed the sheep earlier,” said a Gopalsahi resident Sanjay Das.

Even though the mystery behind the deaths is yet to be unravelled, Forest officials have advised the locals to keep their sheep along with other livestock.

“This incident is quite similar to the one that happened in Niali last year. We are creating awareness among the people in the area. We have advised them to refrain from leaving the sheep alone,” Range officer of Dampada, Sangram Keshari Mohanty, said.

Panic gripped residents of Naraj area after 15 sheep were found dead while 2 others had gone missing on December 23. Another sheep was also found dead in the same area yesterday.

In a similar case last year, as many as 36 sheep were found killed in separate incidents in Niali area of Cuttack.