During a campfire chat in the jungles we came to know an interesting phenomenon from some tribal folk of the region. They said that the livestock thieves of the region know some mantras (magic chants) and with this power they produce trance in the sheep and goats. They recite some mantras on their chappals (footwear) and place it on the ear of a goat or sheep after pulling it down to the earth. It has a magical effect and the animal remains inactive as long as their mascot is there. What they do is they stock the animal farthest from the herd boy of a grazing flock of sheep or goat, pull down the animal, place their chappal on the ear of the animal and go away. When the flock moves away from the spot they remove their booty.
We discussed it thoroughly and concluded that some pressure around the ear region may be responsible for this behaviour of the animals. For our experiment we chose four mammals one each from Deer and Antelope family and two rodents. First we tried it on Four Horned Antelope (Teraceros quadricornis). A stone on a plastic tray was placed on the ear of the antelope by laying it on the ground laterally and pressing its neck to the ground. Because it was difficult to place a stone on the ear, a flat plastic tray was used and a stone was placed on top of it. The combined weight of the plastic tray and the stone was 973.7g. The effect was beyond our expectation. The antelope became inactive and closed its eyes. It didn’t try to throw the stone and seemed to be in a deep sleep. The stone was placed for fifteen minutes and during this period the animal was not secured by any strings. It remained inert as long as the stone was there. But as soon as the stone was removed it jumped and ran away. The same device and method was tried on Guinea pig (Cavia cobaya) with the same result.
The old trick of the tribal thieves was repeated on Cheetal (Axis axis) fawn but with a slight modification. A chappal weighing 193 g. was placed on the ear of the fawn in such a way so that it could cover orifice, pinna and back of the head. This also put the animal to sleep.
A stone weighing 63 g. was placed on the ear of a Three Striped Squirrel (Funambulus palmarum) and the reaction of the squirrel to this was the same as that of the Cheetal.
In the case of the above mentioned animals we found that a slight pressure around the ear region rendered them inactive but as soon as the pressure was removed they became active instantaneously. This shows that the pressure induces sleep in the animals.
Now if we look into the technique of killing by mammalian land predators, large as well as small, we find a similarity in the mode of overpowering their prey. Whether the prey is seized by the throat or by the nape, the predator always goes for the upper reaches of the neck of its prey that is near the junction of the head and the neck. What we found in a number of kills of different predators is that one of their canines always pierces near the back of the ear of its prey. During attack when the predator closes its jaws on the throat or the nape of the prey, the pressure produced by the canines in the ear region produces instant sleep. To pull down the prey running for life in a sleepy state is quite easy for the pursuer. Predators know this anatomical weakness of their prey since ages. Taking the advantage of this weakness, many small predators can overpower heavier animals. In nature also most of the predators are smaller than their most sought out preys.
From these experiments on the above-mentioned mammals we inferred that some superficial nerve might stimulate the sleeping centre of the brain, inducing sleep in the animals.
Further study in this direction may be of immense help to the naturalists, vets and allopathic doctors.
If the causes of this sleep inducing phenomenon is found out, it may reveal many mysteries of human brain and solve many problems of Medical Science and may minimize human and animal sufferings.
Published in Tiger Paper ((Regional Quarterly Bulletin on Wildlife and National Parks Management):
Tehsin, R. & Nathawat, J. S. (1986) Can Thieves Be Guides To Naturalists? Tiger Paper XIII (2): 21–22
Also published in Cheeal (Journal of Wildlife Preservation Society of India):
Tehsin, R. & Nathawat, J. S. (1984) Can Thieves Be Guides To Naturalists? Cheetal 26(2): 38-39
Mr. O. C. Chandel, Deputy Conservator of Forest, Rajasthan, came to know of this phenomenon in discussions with Dr. Raza Tehsin. He is from Himachal Pradesh and on his visit to his native place he started treating domestic animals by making them sleep utilising the above technique of the author. He has treated domestic goat, cattle, birds and even a panther cub! He says you don’t have to tie the animal and there is no pain caused to it when you treat it or perform surgery making it sleep by this method. In his native place he has become famous by the name of ‘The Anaesthetist’.