Dogs pose danger to threatened species, says study by city-based researchers

Dogs pose danger to threatened species, says study by city-based researchers

It is a well known adage that dogs are man’s best friends. But not many know that dogs are a threat to many species.

A recent study by a team of international and Bengaluru-based researchers from Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE) found that dogs are responsible for the extinction of at least 11 vertebrates.

In the research paper titled ‘Dogs are a threat to threatened species worldwide’ coupled with a study titled ‘Dogs in the Himalayas: Friend turned foe?’, the researchers have tried to show that there is a problem caused by street and pet dogs which needs to be addressed.

Abi Tamim Vanak, Associate Professor (Fellow), Atree and one of the researchers, told DH that there have been many documented cases proving that dogs have hunted cattle. Though it has been studied in detail in the Himalayan regions, the same can be concluded for areas abutting forest patches where dogs are used to safeguard livestock. The team found that there were more cases of livestock death caused by dogs when compared to snow leopards and wolves.

While the study in the Himalayas is purely field-based over a period of two years, the research paper is a six-month assessment of the details listed out by The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

IUCN is an international body based out of Gland in Switzerland and works in the field of nature conservation and sustainable use of natural resources.


Predators

“We compared and analysed details of each threatened, extinct and endangered species and found that most of them were because of dogs. Canines have characteristics similar to wolves. They are predators and have the inbuilt quality to hunt in packs. There are also many instances where dogs have attacked human beings,” said Vanak.

India is home to 60 million dogs. It is among the top five countries along with China, Indonesia and USA which have large population of dogs.

It has also been noted that in the 1990s, when vulture population declined, the dog population showed an increase. Human population is growing and urban areas are expanding. The garbage menace is also increasing, giving more room for dogs, he added.

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