Thursday, January 20, 2022

Study on feral dogs conducted at Lahaul, Pangi in Himachal

The Wildlife Wing of H.P Forest Department conducted a first of its kind study on feral dogs through Zoological Survey of India (ZSI), Kolkata to understand the distribution pattern, population status and feeding resources of feral dogs in the Lahaul and Pangi landscape under GoI-GEF-UNDP SECURE Himalaya Project.

Archana Sharma, Chief Wildlife Warden cum State Project Director, SECURE Himalaya informed that the issue of feral dogs in high altitude areas which are habitat of globally significant wildlife species like snow leopard is a bit concerning, since the feral dogs are reported to lead to biodiversity loss, depredations of wildlife species and also competing with large carnivores like Snow Leopard.

As globally, few studies are available documenting the impact of feral dogs on wildlife, hence, in order to understand their current population status and impacts in Lahaul-Pangi landscapes this study was conducted under SECURE project with the help of ZSI, Kolkata. Dr Lalit Kumar Sharma, Scientist, ZSI, Kolkata said that multi- pronged approach of camera trapping, trail sampling, non-invasive genetics and questionnaire survey was used to gather information on the feral dogs in Lahaul-Pangi landscape. He further informed that based on the SCER model, feral dog density was found to be 2.78 individuals per 100 Km2on an average ranging from 1.4 to 5.5 individuals per 100 km2in the Lahaul and Pangi landscape.

Anil Thakur, Chief Conservator of Forest (Wildlife) cum State Nodal Officer, SECURE Himalaya Project told that as per the ZSI report the micro-histological analysis of the feral dog suggested that some of the wildlife species such as marmot, blue sheep and rodents species are present in the diet of feral dogs, but the diet is dominated by domestic livestock, which is a matter of great concern.

He further informed that although the population density of feral dogs in landscape is not at alarming stage, but this is the right time to start mitigation planning of this imminent threat in these high range Himalayan ecosystems. He further informed that if required, in future also long term monitoring and more intensive studies will be undertaken to understand possible impact by feral dogs on wildlife using the different monitoring protocols.

Dr Manoj Thakur, State Project Officer, SECURE Himalaya Project informed that on the basis of findings of this report, the HP Forest Department and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in collaboration with other line department’s and local community based organisation will start the implementation of strategy proposed by ZSI for feral dog management under which dog sterilisation and awareness generation activities on responsible dog ownership will be undertaken on priority this year.

He further informed that UNDP is working closely with Forest Department and other line departments to ensure sustainable management of the high range Himalayan ecosystems and to address their conservation and livelihood challenges under SECURE Himalaya Project.

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