New Delhi, 16 Nov 2021 13:44 IST
The short documentary was screened as part of the Dharamshala International Film Festival.
One of the fallouts of climate change is the increasing encounters between wildlife and humans. Around the world, animals such as beavers, raccoons, foxes, even leopards and bears have become a nuisance and a danger to humans living in close proximity to wildlife zones. Nikhil Talegaonkar’s short documentary Khee (Dogs) alerts us to a little-known menace slowly growing in Ladakh, that of stray dogs.
Set amidst the stunning and pristine landscape of Ladakh, the documentary highlights the growing danger of feral stray dogs, who are terrorising local residents in the area. Khee begins with people describing the effect of an incident that is not revealed at the outset. Villagers from Saspol and Nyoma vividly describe the steadily growing dog menace and its disastrous effects on the population. The horrific incident is that of a young woman being ripped apart by a pack of wild dogs. This becomes the emotional peg for the documentary which lays bare the scarcely known problem and the various attempts to tackle it.
Talegaonkar interviews a large number of people, including wildlife activists, government officials and other stakeholders, to both, understand the problem as well as examine possible solutions. News clippings, witness accounts, statements, all alert viewers to the menace that only seems to be increasing as stray dogs attack not just humans but pose serious damage to livestock and certain endangered species of wildlife who inhabit the terrain. The film also traces the cruel human backlash against the dogs, which is part of the extreme measures adopted by the local population.
Through the film, we learn about ‘Khibshank’, a highly aggressive breed of dog that is a hybrid between a wolf and a dog that has become indigenous to Ladakh. Urbanization and increased tourism has provided the ideal conditions for the rapid proliferation of these animals. The statistics are astounding, and the relative inability to curb the menace through the adoption of solutions like sterilization and the setting up of a non-profit is disheartening.
The outlining of the problem becomes repetitive in part, and although the documentary traces the measures taken to curb the menace, there are no decisive, successful measures that emerge. One gets a sense that the desire now is to get rid of the dogs, without applying oneself to find a viable solution that is both feasible and humane, a deeply worrying thought, especially when encounters between humans and wild animals are only set to increase in the coming times.
Khee was screened as part of the 10th Dharamshala International Film Festival.
Watch the film here.