Commensal in conflict: Livestock depredation patterns by free-ranging domestic dogs in the Upper Spiti Landscape, Himachal Pradesh, India
In human-populated landscapes worldwide, domestic dogs (Canis lupus familiaris) are the most abundant terrestrial carnivore. Although dogs have been used for the protection of livestock from wild carnivores, they have also been implicated as predators of livestock. We used a combination of methods (field surveys, interview surveys, and data from secondary sources) to examine the patterns and factors driving livestock depredation by free-ranging dogs, as well as economic losses to local communities in a Trans-Himalayan agro-pastoralist landscape in India. Our results show that livestock abundance was a better predictor of depredation in the villages than local dog abundance. Dogs mainly killed small-bodied livestock and sheep were the most selected prey. Dogs were responsible for the majority of livestock losses, with losses being comparable to that by snow leopards. This high level of conflict may disrupt community benefits from conservation programs and potentially undermine the conservation efforts in the region through a range of cascading effects.
KeywordsCanis lupus familiaris Economic loss High-altitude desert Human–animal conflict Human-subsidized carnivore
- Anonymous. 2011. Management plan for the Upper Spiti Landscape including the Kibber Wildlife Sanctuary. Nature Conservation Foundation, Wildlife Wing—Himachal Pradesh Forest Department and Youth Groups in Spiti.Google Scholar
- Bergman, D., and S. Bender. 2009. Dogs gone wild : Feral dog damage in the United States. In Proceedings of the 13th WDM conference, ed. J. Boulanger, 177–183. New York: Saratoga Springs.Google Scholar
- Bishop, N. 1998. Himalayan herders. In Case studies in cultural anthropology, ed. G. Spindler, and L. Spindler. Fort Worth, TX: Hartcourt Brace.Google Scholar
- Bouvier, M., and C. Arthur. 1995. Protection et indemnisation des degats d’ours aux troupeaux domestiques dans les Pyrenees occidentales: Fonctionnement, importance economique et role dans la protection de l’ours. In Proceedings on the management and restoration of small and relictual bear populations, ed. F. Bourliere, V. Barre, J. Camerra, V. Herrenschmidt, F. Moutou, C. Servheen, S. Stuart, and M. Saint Girons, 510–521. Paris: Museum of Natural History.Google Scholar
- Burnham, K.P., and D.R. Anderson. 2002. Model selection and multi model inference: A practical information-theoretic approach, 2nd ed. New York: Springer.Google Scholar
- Champion, H.G., and S.K. Seth. 1968. A revised survey of the forest types of India. Delhi: Manager of Publications, GOI.Google Scholar
- Gompper, M.E. 2014. The dog-human-wildlife interface: Assessing the scope of the problem. In Free-ranging dogs and wildlife conservation, ed. M.E. Gompper, 9–54. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- GRASS Development Team. 2015. Geographic Resources Analysis Support System (GRASS) Software, Version 7.0. Open Source Geospatial Foundation. http://grass.osgeo.org.
- Handa, O. 1994. Tabo Monastery and Buddhism in the Trans-Himalaya: Thousand years of existence of the Tabo Chos-Khor. New Delhi: Indus Publishing.Google Scholar
- Harihar, A., M. Ghosh-Harihar, and D.C. MacMillan. 2014. Human resettlement and tiger conservation—Socio-economic assessment of pastoralists reveals a rare conservation opportunity in a human-dominated landscape. Biological Conservation 169: 167–175. doi:10.1016/j.biocon.2013.11.012.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Hennelly, L., B. Habib, and S. Lyngdoh. 2015. Himalayan wolf and feral dog displaying mating behaviour in Spiti Valley, India, and potential conservation threats from sympatric feral dogs. Canid Biology and Conservation 18: 27–30.Google Scholar
- Kumar, A., and R. Paliwal. 2015. Feral dogs of Spiti Valley, Himachal Pradesh: An emerging threat for wildlife and human life. Current Science 108: 1799–1800.Google Scholar
- Nie, M.A. 2001. The sociopolitical dimensions of wolf management and restoration in the United States. Human Ecology Review 8: 1–12.Google Scholar
- Otis, D., K. Burnham, G. White, and D. Anderson. 1978. Statistical inference from capture data on closed animal populations. Wildlife Monographs 62: 3–135.Google Scholar
- Pal, R. 2013. Estimates of dog abundance and livestock predation along a gradient of village sizes in the Spiti Valley, Himachal Pradesh. MSc Thesis. Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University, New Delhi.Google Scholar
- Pollock, K.H., J.D. Nichols, C. Brownie, and J.E. Hines. 1990. Statistical inference for capture-recapture experiments. Wildlife Monographs 107: 1–97.Google Scholar
- QGIS Development Team. 2014. QGIS Geographic Information System. Open Source Geospatial Foundation Project. http://qgis.osgeo.org.
- R Core Team. 2015. R: A language and environment for statistical computing. R Foundation for Statistical Computing, Vienna. https://www.R-project.org/.
- Riley, S., S. DeGloria, and R. Elliot. 1999. A terrain ruggedness index that quantifies topographic heterogeneity. Intermountain Journal of Science 5: 23–27.Google Scholar
- Ritchie, E.G., C.R. Dickman, M. Letnic, and A.T. Vanak. 2014. Dogs as predators and trophic regulators. In Free-ranging dogs and wildlife conservation, ed. M.E. Gompper, 55–68. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Totton, S.C., A.I. Wandeler, J. Zinsstag, C.T. Bauch, C.S. Ribble, R.C. Rosatte, and S.A. McEwen. 2010. Stray dog population demographics in Jodhpur, India following a population control/rabies vaccination program. Preventive Veterinary Medicine 97: 51–57. doi:10.1016/j.prevetmed.2010.07.009.CrossRefGoogle Scholar