It is no surprise that Mussoorie is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Uttarakhand, yet it harbours a wide range of wildlife. In my recent visit to Mussoorie on April 2015, I was quite excited to see many of Himalayan winged wonders amidst the buzzing Mall Road and the overcrowded streets. On one of our walks to reach Cloud’s End Forest Resort through a small village called Hathipaon we stumbled upon a healthy village dog feeding on a young Barking Deer or the Indian Muntjac (Muntiacus muntjak). At first glance, we thought that probably a pack of Golden Jackals (Canis aureus) or maybe even a Leopard (Panthera pardus) might have killed the Barking deer and then had to flee leaving the carcass owing to human disturbance. However, the villagers informed us that all the dogs in the vicinity have become experts in forming packs and predating on wild animals. One of the ‘Bhotiyas’ (shepherd/nomad) informed us that he regularly finds carcass of barking deer and pheasants in the forest.
A number of national and International studies have revealed that presence of dogs around protected areas is detrimental to local wildlife. The Cloud’s End Forest which acts as a green corridor for wildlife with its strong linkage to the Binog wildlife sanctuary is under threat due to its increasing dog population. Relevant scientific studies are needed to prove the degree of conflict supported with a good sterilisation programme for the dogs.
Conservation India has highlighted the ever-growing threat of feral dogs to wildlife across India’s forests and grasslands.
Chosen as 'Picture of the Week'
We receive several images of domestic / feral dogs attacking wild prey. These dogs, from human settlements in or around wildlife habitat, not only deplete wild prey populations, but also increase the potential for pathogen transmission to wildlife.