Man’s Best Friend – a Menace to Wildlife


Vikas Patil | Dandeli Karnataka

With an ever-increasing human population, our love for dogs has also grown multi-

folds in the past few decades. However, we, as a society have collectively turned a blind eye


towards the devastating global impacts that domestic, feral, and free-ranging dogs impose on

wildlife. With over one billion dogs globally, they are broadly classified as domestic (human

dependent) and free-ranging (stray) or Feral dogs.

With an exorbitant number of feral dogs roaming around close proximity of various

wild reserves in India, they are reported to compete with other carnivores for prey. Reports

and studies have highlighted that feral and free-ranging dogs have been largely responsible

for disrupting the wildlife ecosystem by killing wild animals, transmitting dangerous

diseases, and even interbreeding with wild animals. Studies related to the quantification of

these effects have revealed that domestic dogs are a potential threat to 188 endangered and

threatened species globally. They have also been responsible for the extinction of 11

vertebrates in the recent past. There has been vast evidence circulating on the internet and in

conservationists’ camera trap records that prove dogs to have fed on wild carcasses.

Such scavenging and killing of wild animals by feral dogs have exacerbated the

negative impacts of dogs on wildlife especially in a country like India. A striking example of

the Great Indian Bustard being threatened by feral dogs can be seen in Rajasthan (State in

India) with around 150 of them remaining in the wild. Since the feral dog density is relatively

very high as compared to natural predators, the frequency of prey species getting attacked in

the forest across India has been extortionate.


Transmission of disease from feral dogs to wildlife has been another aspect that is

severely underscored by wildlife conservationists. Free-ranging dogs are known to carry

diseases like rabies which are transmitted to animals like dhole, wolf, jackal, chitals etc.

during their close encounters with these wild animals.

While activities like predation, hybridization, disease transmission by feral dogs and

their repercussions on wildlife have been reported through several studies by wildlife

conservationists, efforts towards mitigating these effects have not been investigated in their

entirety. However, irrational solutions like killing feral dogs have been proposed but the

situation must be dealt with sustainable methods like Animal Birth Control or Dog

Sterilization.

Shantanu Sharma | Pench Tiger Reserve, Madhya Pradesh

Along with these methods, restricting the free-ranging behaviour of dogs is the

need of the hour because even a small number could adversely impact various wildlife

species. With a proper emphasis on population control, adequate feeding, and limiting their free-ranging behaviour, we can minimize their encounters with the wild animals thus, helping numerous endangered and threatened species to persist in the wild.


References:

[1] Home, C., Bhatnagar, Y.V. and Vanak, A.T., 2018. Canine Conundrum:

domestic dogs as an invasive species and their impacts on wildlife in India. Animal

Conservation, 21(4), pp.275-282.

[2] Doherty, T.S., Dickman, C.R., Glen, A.S., Newsome, T.M., Nimmo, D.G., Ritchie, E.G.,

Vanak, A.T. and Wirsing, A.J., 2017. The global impacts of domestic dogs on threatened

vertebrates. Biological conservation, 210, pp.56-59.

[3] Dogs' becoming major threat' to wildlife - BBC News

[4] Nature in Fous (Images attached)


- SRIGAN MOHARIR (srigan.moharir17@vit.edu)

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