Every year, the backwaters of the Kabini river recede in summer, allowing a lush carpet of grassy meadows to develop. It kickstarts game movement, as animals head towards the water and and also enjoy the lush grazing grounds. The general scarcity of water attracts not only elephants from neighboring ranges, but also herds of gaur and sadly, humans too. This forest, like many others, has tribal settlements on the periphery. The further the water recedes, the deeper the humans intrude. By April, we see the Balle Tribal Settlement in Rajiv Gandhi NP come as far as the Mastigudi Watchtower in search of water, fish and wood.
Here is a shot I took in late April (2012) of a dog trying to attack a herd of gaur, before being chased away by the gaur. These sightings are becoming more frequent in the Balle region; an area with high wildlife density. This is also an area where I used to see a large male tiger (the Kakankote male) parade the meadows. Sadly, this is now an area where I also see domestic dogs kill deer, while cattle graze freely.
Large dog populations in these human settlements cause a serious issue for the ecosystem as they move freely within the forest. They radically increase the danger of spreading domestic diseases, such as CPV, pathogen transmission and rabies, any of which can be deadly for humans and wild animals alike.
Editor’s note: This appears to be a serious issue in this area of Kabini. This is the fourth such submission to Conservation India. A simple tag search for village dogs lists the other posts.