In fact, Bhatnagar has been noticing this problem from the early ’90s. “I had observed this in Spiti’s Pin Valley National Park, where you find a handsome wild goat called Ibex. The dogs belonging to herders there used to chase them and the Ibex used to retreat to cliffs to escape predation. Of course, back then, it was an occasional occurrence. Now, it is becoming a serious threat on account of garbage management and so on.Though wildlife species may not be directly attacked, they fight with the dogs over prey. If a cow or yak carcass is lying for these vultures to be eaten over a few days, the pack of dogs licks it clean in an hour.Sometimes, even before the vultures realise the location of the carcasses, the dogs have already finished them off, thus leading to the starvation of this already endangered species,“ he rued.
Dharmendra Khandal, a field biologist from Tiger Watch, an NGO based in Ranthambore, had similar observations to share. Speaking to Mirror, he said, “There are direct attacks and cases of biting, apart from issues like diseases which come from these dogs. I had seen a family of foxes at a denning site getting wiped out due to the canine distemper virus, which generally comes from these dogs. It happens due to sharing of prey or water with infected individuals among other reasons. In urban areas, work has been done to control the dog population. But, it is yet to happen on a large scale in village areas. Till this population is controlled, the attacks will not reduce.“
Not just mammals, even our feathered friends are attacked at times. “In protected areas, wildlife should be the priority. In Akshi, near Alibaug, dogs are seen chasing migratory birds. In Maharashtra, the problem is also seen in Navegaon National Park and Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve. In a bid to avoid their interactions with wildlife, these feral dogs should be taken care of by experts in specialised kennels after removing them from the wilderness,“ said Anuj Khare, honorary wildlife warden from Pune. Shree Bhagwan, principal chief conservator of forests (wildlife) for the entire state, was unaware of the statistics. “So far, we have not received the findings of the study. Once they are shared with us, we will accordingly set up expert committees to see what can be done to reduce the stray population in and around protected areas,“ he said. But, the forest department has already been trying to solve the problem sans casualties. “We do not allow the dogs to enter protected area since the forest act does not allow so. We chase away the alpha male with catapults so that other dogs follow him outside,“ added Sunil Limaye, chief conservator of forests, Pune Wildlife Division.
Source : TOI