In the periodically conducted Tiger census, camera-traps used to record tigers found more feral dogs than tigers in 17 tiger reserves. The census identified more feral dogs than livestock in 30 tiger reserves.
Experts say that the presence of feral animals run the risk of transmission of various diseases from them to the endemic wildlife. These feral animals also compete for forest resources with the endemic animals.
The Environment Ministry claims that the feral animals are found only in the forest fringes. Experts question this claim as their report does not say where the animals were photographed.
SP Yadav, member secretary of the National Tiger Conservation Authority, said, “We are aware of this problem. Livestock and dogs are found in certain fringe areas close to villages. In view of threats such as canine distemper virus, etc., we are trying to minimise the interaction between these domestic species and wildlife.”
The 2018 tiger survey actually found more dogs than tigers in the 17 main tiger reserves. This includes reserves like the Sariska (Rajasthan), Bhadra, Anshi-Dandeli (Karnataka), Melghat, Bhor(Maharashtra) and Pench, Panna, Sanjay-Dubri and Bandhavgarh (Madhya Pradesh). Some of these reserves saw very few tigers or no tigers altogether.
In fact these feral dogs start to hunt wildlife and compete with tigers and other carnivores for prey. As per Mr Yadav’s claim, let us hope that these intrusive dogs do not result in shrinking the tiger population.