India’s wildlife is under threat from free roaming dogs

by Narendra Patil & Meghna Uniyal

The Animal Birth Control Rules for dog management are unscientific and being challenged in the Supreme Court

Deer fawn attacked by dogs in Baramati, Maharashtra. Photo: Omkar Sumant

There are an estimated 60 million dogs in India and much has been written about the threats that free-ranging / feral dogs (approximately 35 million) pose to wildlife.

While this is clearly a human-made disaster, we, the people and the administration at all levels, seem to have become indifferent and numb to the horrendous consequences unfolding around the country. Consequencing this tragedy for wildlife is the obfuscation of otherwise clear wildlife protection laws.

Free roaming dogs are threatening India’s wildlife

From possibilities of canine distemper and other deadly viruses being transmitted to populations of felids to reports of actual attacks on pinnacle predators in different landscapes, to threats of hybridisation of wild canids and actual predation on ground nesting birds, experts warn of dogs endangering and contributing to the loss of wild fauna.

They specifically caution that dogs may be responsible in large measure to the possible extinction of the Great Indian Bustard and the Black Necked Cranes (BNCs) abandoning their only breeding area in India.