Pack of dogs at Kawal reserve
HYDERABAD: Are domestic dogs taking over tiger reserves in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh? The ‘Status of Tigers, Co-predators and Prey in India’ report released by the Centre on Wednesday revealed that the canines are the most photographed animals on camera traps in Amramad and Kawal tiger reserves in Telangana and Srisailam in Andhra Pradeh.
Nationally, the Udanti-Sitanadi Tiger Reserve in Chhattisgarh tops in domestic dog population followed by Kawal. The Nagarjunsagar-Srisailam Tiger Reserve (NSTR) in AP comes in third with Amrabad just a peg below.
Experts say tribals living in forest habitations and poachers train some of these dogs to kill small animals, while cattle grazers use them to keep their herd together. However, packs of dogs have also been known to bring down the odd deer and chase bigger animals. National Tiger Conservation Authority assesses the magnitude of human disturbances within tiger reserves using relative abundance index (RAI) formed with help of camera trap images of livestock, free-ranging domestic dogs, wild animals, poachers with arms or poached carcasses.
“While free-ranging dogs abounded in Udanti-Sitanadi, Kawal, NSTR, Amrabad, Sariska and Kali reserves, feral dogs were detected in most reserves. Dogs are a threat to both ungulates (which they hunt) and to carnivores, since they carry infectious diseases like rabies, parvovirus, and distemper virus,” said NTCA in the report.
The report also revealed that RAI for poaching incidences were recorded for Udanti-Sitanadi, Palamau, NSTR, Amrabad, Dudhwa, Kanha, Pench-MP and other tiger reserves.
“Armed poachers were detected in Palamau TR, Amrabad TR and Udanti Sitanadi TR. Decline and lack of improvement in the status of Udanti-Sitanadi, Achanakmar, Amrabad, Palamu, NSTR and Dampa Tiger Reserves can be correlated with a high disturbance regime and poaching,” the report adds.
Imran Siddique of Hyderabad Tiger Conservation Society said, “Poachers with domestic dogs trained to hunt have even been captured on camera traps in interior areas.”
Telangana and Andhra government have allowed cattle grazing in tiger reserves.
Wildlife department OSD A Shankaran said, “In tribal habitations and villages within the tiger reserves, each family raises a dog or two. Over time, their population increases. The dogs do have those wild instincts. As they live both near habitations and in the wild and in packs, they even hunt sambar.”
Instances of wild dog killing deer have been reported not only in tiger reserves but from green patches like the University of Hyderabad as well.