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Commensal in conflict: Livestock depredation patterns by free-ranging domestic dogs in the Upper Spiti Landscape, Himachal Pradesh, India

  • Chandrima Home
  • Ranjana Pal
  • Rishi Kumar Sharma
  • Kulbhushansingh R. Suryawanshi
  • Yash Veer Bhatnagar
  • Abi Tamim Vanak


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.


Canis lupus familiaris Economic loss High-altitude desert Human–animal conflict Human-subsidized carnivore 

Supplementary material

13280_2016_858_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (96 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 97 kb)

Copyright information

© Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the EnvironmentBangaloreIndia
  2. 2.Manipal UniversityManipalIndia
  3. 3.Wildlife Institute of IndiaDehradunIndia
  4. 4.World Wildlife FundNew DelhiIndia
  5. 5.Nature Conservation FoundationMysoreIndia
  6. 6.Snow Leopard TrustSeattleUSA
  7. 7.School of Life SciencesUniversity of KwaZulu-Natal, WestvilleDurbanSouth Africa

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