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Papuan Dogs – the first companions of man

I. Preservation of strains – but how ?

No one possibly can envisage with reasonable perspectives a continuity of traditional Papuan dog strains in situ, in the villages of New Guinea. Both the introduction of foreign dogs and the dramatic change of life style have put an end to it.

But equally no chance of survival exists under the eyes and ruling imput by kennel clubs in countries of our western civilization. The broad spectrum of variability that is so characterstic for primitive dog strains, is being exterminated in favour of narrowly set standards, largely at random and liking (cf. ALDERSON 1978).The reader may take the NGSD as an example: what has been selected for further breeding was only a section of the genetic diversity mainfested in the four founder individuals. And the original wide spectrum of the uncounted individuals in the free roaming populations was not considered nor involved from the very beginning of keeping New Guinea dogs abroad. Most descriptions by early field researchers refer to a considerable variability even before the influx of foreign genes (cf. chapter E: Differenciaton and Adaptation). In the modern NGSD this peculiar wide spectrum in the gene composition has not been maintained – rather just another breed with a defined standard set of characteristics was created – outside of the traditional setting.

To my opinion, it is primarily a matter of re-consideration by breeders taking a stand against the directives imposed by the kennel clubs if there will be reasonable perspectives for preserving Papuan dog strains. The various clubs' representatives ought to pay tribute to the nature of strains in distinction to breeds – only under these auspices one may raise hopes for a survival of primitive dogs in general including the so called pariah and shensi dogs. These are not inferior cretatures, they just have to be evaluated from other angles as compared with judging the acknowledged breeds. Too often the various strains of pariah dogs are looked at as if they just were some kind of inferior class stray dogs. These forbidding prejudices remind of human racial discrimination in bygone times; the touching truth was resting in all those old field reports which were never reckognized nor made accessible to a wider public (cf. chapters G and H). There are certainly more to be unveiled...

The current unfortunate mis-conception of those pariah dogs and of primitive strains in general including the Papuan dogs and the dingo led to a false image of their husbandry: as if there existed only loose dog – man relations without any defined funcions in hunting etc. Of course there were mechnisms of selection in the domestication process on the tribal level of human society, but they were certainly not identical with those directive measures as they are exclusively ruling now in modern dog breeding.

There has to be made a distinction in principle between breeds that were bred as such already prior to adoption by western society and recognized by kennel clubs, and those rather undefined general dogs. The majority of our modern breeds belongs to the first category. The second class consists of those primitive strains of dogs which evolved under environmental, and only to a lesser extent under direct human (cultural) influences – as we have demonstrated in chapter E. But which had, nevertheless, an evident function in the overall symbiotic system of man-dog relations (including assistance in hunting). For these strains as distinguised from breeds (cf. chapter C) the criteria for „pureness“ ought to be set in a matching wideness and acceptance of the strain's specific history, living conditions and traditional role in village communities. Here variability both in morphology and behaviour is a significant part of the characteristics and must be registered and maintained; it has here another dimension and functional significance. To preserve a strain one has to apply an adapted and wider set of criteria in selection. An alternative strategy is imperative!

This publication may be seen as a guideline towards those goals – and only once they were adopted the genuine Papuan dogs will have a chance to survive.

Set up an Alternative Kennel Club and proceed from there in due respect for the qualities of all those ancient strains – which are still keeping their true company with mankind in disregard of all the weird ways of earlier spiritual treatment, beating and today's discrimination.

Veröffentlicht am Kategorien Gulf of Papua, Papuan Dogs, Rare breeds, Zoological ResearchSchlagwörter , , , ,

Über Thomas Schultze-Westrum

Dr. Thomas Georg Hans SCHULTZE-WESTRUM Author of Scientific and Popular Publications Producer and Director of Documentary Films and Videos Adviser in Nature Conservation and Preservation of Rural Cultures Initiator of Conservation Programmes German national. Born 1937 (Berlin). Classical education at the Benedictine monastery of Ettal in Upper Bavaria. Graduate of Munich University, with degrees in Zoology, Geology and Cultural Anthropology (Ethnology). Scholarship by “Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes”. Research (University of Munich, other scientific institutions) and publications on social and population physiology of marsupials and other vertebrate fauna of New Guinea and the Mediterranean Region, cultural anthropology, conservation and resource management on the village level, mainly in Greece and New Guinea. Author of the books “New Guinea” (Berne 1972) and “Biologie des Friedens” (Biology of Peace), Munich 1974. Dr. Schultze-Westrum has joined for several years the Commissions on Ecology and Environmental Planning of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN). He is the founder of the working group (IUCN Commission on Ecology) “Conservation and Traditional Life Styles” 1979; the “ECOCULTURE” Movement 1981; the “Gesellschaft für die Erhaltung alter und gefährdeter Haustierrassen” GEH (Society for the Preservation of Old and Endangered Breeds of Domestic Animals) 1981; and the non-profit-making society “KALLIERGIA”, for traditional agriculture and village conservation in Greece, 1993. As a consultant he has worked for the EU, IUCN, OECD and WWF. As a film maker he has produced, directed and mostly also shot, for German television and international TV networks, 75 documentaries, mainly ecological portraits with emphasis upon the integration of local and traditionally living people into conservation projects. His first film (1974) was about alternative (sustainable) utilization of tropical rainforests in New Guinea, for ZDF. Never Dr. Schultze-Westrum has entered any of his films into an award winning competition, because he is more concerned about the effects of his TV work in actual conservation and public awareness. One of these real awards was the creation of the Marine National Park Alonnisos Northern Sporades in Greece as a result of his film “The Coast of the Monk Seals” in 1976/77 for ZDF (ratings 36 % - shown in 11 countries). His programme “Green Desert”, about traditional water management in the Sultanate of Oman was distributed by the Television Trust for the Environment TVE to 44, mainly Third World, countries. Another leading aspect of his film work was the production of environmental films for the people of the country where he was filming. So, he produced the first TV series of films on ecology, rural life styles and conservation for Greece (in the early 80’s, 14 programmes) and for the Sultanate of Oman (late 80’s, 12 films). His deep interest in ancient human traditions inspired him to produce “Omani Seafaring”, for Oman TV; “Im Kielwasser Sindbads” (In the Wake of Sindbad), for the series Terra X of ZDF; and “Insel der Magier” (Island of the Sorcerers: Waigeo) for ARTE TV. After retiring from TV film production at the end of 2002 he is returning to his earlier scientific work (abandoned in the early 70’s) about the social and population physiology of marsupials ( Petaurus breviceps papuanus and closely related species); village based conservation; the evolution of human communal behaviour and cultural diversity; and the evolution of art styles in the Papuan Gulf province of New Guinea. Since 1992 he is also involved in eco- and agrotourism programmes that are based on his earlier promotion of this alternative “soft” tourism through publications and films, in Greece and West Papua. His conservation activities are continuously focussed on Greece and New Guinea, since 1957 and 1959, respectively. Dr. Schultze-Westrum now is writing up his experiences of many years field work and he is keeping communications alive through his homepage, from the ancient village of Kazaviti on the island of Thassos in the northern Aegean Sea. The conservation and re-activation of outstanding traditional values of Kazaviti stand at the centre of a local museum and documentation centre to be set up in one or even two old Macedonian stone houses.