Microkhan by Brendan I. Koerner

Beware the Piper

February 22nd, 2011 · 6 Comments

One of the core tenets of the scientific method is total transparency. An experiment cannot be trusted if it can’t be replicated, so every step in the process must be documented and described for the masses. Those who resist these guidelines are often guilty of chicanery.

Thus the good people of Srinagar, Kashmir’s gorgeous capital, should be skeptical of Khursheed Ahmad Mir. An exterminator who claims to possess advanced degrees in both business and agriculture, Mir has offered to help Srinagar with one of its most intractable problems: the huge number of stray dogs who roam the city’s streets. The municipal government has previously attempted to cull the dogs with poison, but the killings have done nothing to halt the canine population’s steady increase. Now along comes Mir, promising the truly miraculous: he will take care of the stray dog problem without resorting to violence:

“Mir claims to make dogs leave Kashmir Valley without killing them,” said an official. He added: “This is subject to the condition that he does not do anything illegal and does not kill the stray dogs. Based on the success of the programme more areas can be allotted to him on experimental basis.”

Mir’s services were hired by J&K government in 2004 when a newborn baby was bit by rats at premier maternity hospital Lal Ded and the baby died the same night. “I have cleared Srinagar’s premiere hospitals like Shri Maharaja Hari Singh and Lal Ded from rats. It takes us just 24 hours to shoo away rats in a hospital with our machines and resources. Earlier, a drive against rats would take fortnight to yield result,” said lean Mir to HT.

“I cleared Rajasthan’s main Jaipur city’s several areas of monkeys long back and also cleared National Archives and Khuda Baksh buildings in Delhi,” said Mir, director of 4-H-Hub (India), with expertise of two decades.

“Scientists also work with me,” he added.

In a trial run on Sunday night, Mir said his team cleared his residential area in uptown Srinagar’s Sanath Nagar of 150 dogs.

I will not share the trick of the trade. But I assure we will take dogs away from Srinagar municipal limits without killing them. For ecological balance, we will keep a good number of doctors for necessary scavenging,” said Mir.

If Mir truly does hold the secret to ridding a city of tens of thousands of feral dogs, he belongs on the worldwide lecture circuit. The finest minds in animal control have long been vexed by this challenge, and the general conclusion is that the only real solution is quite expensive: catching, neutering, and then releasing thousands of dogs. Yet here is Mir, claiming that he can accomplish the seemingly impossible—though he can’t tell us how, despite the fact that he is slated to collect public funds for his efforts.

I wish Mir the best of luck with his endeavors. Yet I won’t be surprised in the least to discover that his methods are no more imaginative than what Srinagar’s elders have tried in the past.

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    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Brendan I. Koerner, Tiviet. Tiviet said: RT @brendankoerner: Beware the self-proclaimed Pied Piper of Srinagar: http://bit.ly/hINLo8 […]

  • Gramsci

    Maybe he passes you a pipe and then it just seems as if the dogs turn into people.

    More seriously, I don’t understand why a government official could not have accompanied him on his “trial run” with the 150 dogs. Oh well. “Machines and resources” suggest to me a ultrasonic device, but I don’t know how rats and monkeys would have responded to that, never mind dogs.
    The unwritten Khan ethic dictates that I at least take a stab research-wise– monkeys don’t seem to respond:
    http://www.thaindian.com/newsportal/india-news/monkey-menace-creating-nuisance-for-agra-residents_100155307.html

  • Gramsci

    (I’m looking at the comments there).

  • Brendan I. Koerner

    @Gramsci: I’ve done some research on ultrasonic devices in the past, and I’ve yet to be convinced that they’re the slightest bit effective. I remember writing a column expressing my doubts, and getting a thick packet of “research” from an ultrasonics manufacturer in response. Nothing in that packet made me change my mind–the only supportive studies were exceedingly old, and used such small sample sizes that they could never be published in legitimate journals.

    When it comes to mice, I still go with the old-fashioned snap traps. But I’m a heartless bastard when it comes to household rodents.

  • Gramsci

    For our garage I use the little one-way traps that keep them alive, at least for a couple of days. But in the winter, those are basically just mini-renditions of “The Cask of Amontillado,” and in some ways harder to think about than “snap!” But even snap-traps are less cruel than glue-boards, with which I’ve had Tarantino-esque results I’d rather not experience again.

    Having said that, the best, and most awesome, method was to watch our cat take care of one that had managed to make it inside the house. Just a Neo-level display of reflexes and unruffled focus.

  • Brendan I. Koerner

    @Gramsci: So true. Several millennia of domestication have done nothing to rid cats of their killer instincts. When you see them pounce, you can briefly spot the tiger in their heritage.

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