Feral dogs cause eco problems in Sikkim

Feral dogs cause eco problems in Sikkim

The rising population of feral dogs running in wild packs has been causing ecological problems in the higher reaches of Sikkim for nearly half a decade. The population has increased rapidly and many live in the wildlife parks and cold desert areas on the higher reaches of the Himalayas bordering Tibet.

This created a negative impact on the endangered endemic wildlife in the eastern Himalayas and also has an impact on the food chain.

To tackle this problem, the Sikkim government formed a special unit, Sikkim Anti-rabies and Animal Health Division (SARAH), which launched a massive sterilisation initiative to contain the population growth of the feral dogs.

A SARAH team under veterinary surgeon Tenzing Dorjee Sherpa is presently in north Sikkim conducting animal birth control surgery and anti-rabies vaccination, official sources said.

According to sources in the Sikkim forest department, these dogs were once domestic animals, but over the past decade they have made forests their home.
These dogs lived near the army and paramilitary units and survived on the leftovers from the camps. Slowly, they forayed into the upper reaches of the Himalayas and turned wild, often attacking smaller animals, sources said.

Due to the feral dogs, highly endangered species in the Himalayas like the Snow Leopard and Tibetan Wolf are not able to find food, a study by the Sikkim government has revealed. 

Endangered endemic wildlife like the Bharal (Himalayan Blue Sheep), Red Panda, Shapi (Himalayan Tahr) and Kiang (Tibetan Wild Ass) are being hunted by the feral dogs, and this has disrupted the fragile flora and fauna of the eastern Himalayas in Sikkim.

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