Friday 9 August 2019

The wolf of Bangladesh: A true story

by Jeremy Hance on 7 August 2019

For Muntasir Akash, it all started with a photo in a news report in early June. The photo showed a canine-like animal, beaten and dead, legs splayed, hanging from makeshift posts. It was killed by local people in the remote village of Taltoli in the Bangladeshi Sundarbans, the world’s largest mangrove forest, straddling both Bangladesh and India.

“Here the story begins,” says Akash, a wildlife biologist at the University of Dhaka. What first struck this expert on carnivorous mammals most was the dead animal’s “white patch around the cheek and throat.”

Akash sent emails to his colleagues, Jan Kamler and William Duckworth, both of whom agreed with Akash’s initial suspicion: the animal was a wolf. The only problem? There are no wolves in Bangladesh.

At least, there hadn’t been a documented wolf in the country since 1949, a time when Bangladesh was still part of Pakistan.

Hooked at this point, Akash reached out to other colleagues, many of whom thought it was a golden jackal (Canis aureus). Jackals are not quite common in Bangladesh.

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