Human Population Growth Effect on Free-ranging Dogs in India

Published: 2021-09-11 18:00:10
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Category: Family, Asia

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Free-ranging dogs are scavengers and are widespread throughout human cities and countries. They are dependent on humans as they need human wastes to survive. Unfortunately for the free-ranging dogs, they are considered a menace to society because they are carriers of diseases such as rabies. It is extremely hard for the health management of developing countries to handle because the exponential growth of humans makes it easier for the population of free-ranging dogs to expand. Vaccination and animal birth control programs are too expensive and would likely be effective only on a large scale. Improved food waste management can help reduce free-ranging dogs around humans as they won’t need to be dependent on human wastes for survival. This is hard in developing countries and therefore, there needs to be management decisions that are established on an understanding of free-ranging dogs’ ecology and population dynamics which unfortunately, there is not enough scientific data for.
Free-ranging dogs in India breed once a year
Mothers are cooperative with baby pups which leads to fewer mortality rates. Pups start to become independent around 8 weeks of age. The beginning of the life of dogs is separated into three stages: the pup which occurs from 0 – 3 months, juvenile which occurs from 3 – 6 months, and sexual maturity which occurs in between 6 – 9 months. Dogs usually scatter after attaining sexual maturity. Although a large number of births occur every year, the population of free-ranging dogs is not very high. This is because of the high early death rate which controls the population growth of free-ranging dogs. In the study, they started assessing them from birth to the end of the seventh month of their age or death. This takes into account the whole juvenile period which estimates early life mortality and leaves out sexually mature free-ranging dogs.The pups started to appear in October and they reached their peak in December and January. There was no bias towards any sex. After January, the number of dogs alive started to drastically decline and reached zero by the end of February. Only a measly 18.96% of the pups reached 7 months. This trend was comparable over the 5 years of sampling that they had observed. The highest rate of mortality, 30.47%, was at the age of 4 months.
The results of the test showed that the survival probability of males was significantly lower than females as the females average survival time was 112.5 days and the males were 80.5 days. Another interesting fact is that the average survival time for the urban population was 95 days and the average survival time for the suburban population was 71 days. The survival rates of males and females were still comparable over the two different habitats because sex and habitat together had no effect on the death rate.
Only 32% of the deaths were caused by natural causes and there is no reliable evidence for 5% of mortality. A whopping 63% of mortality was influenced directly or indirectly by humans such as poisoning/beatings or being taken away from the population. At ages 0-1 month, 52% was from natural causes while only 3% were from humans. After 1 month, human-influenced mortality rates increased dramatically to around 50% until the 5th month where 70-80% of the deaths were caused by them going missing. Most of the females were involved in road accidents while the majority of the males were involved in being taken away by humans. Suburban habitats had more human intervention than urban habitats meaning that there is more human involvement in suburban areas than there is in urban.
The simulation model generated a drastically changed population after 7 months. The fact that females were more involved in road accidents does not mean that they are more accident prone. It was a consequence of most of the males being taken away by humans.
Only 19% of pups reach the age of sexual maturity which implies an early-life mortality in free-ranging dogs. The mortality rate pattern did not change between the four years of sampling so it can be considered a trend in the population of free-ranging dogs. Humans have been a major cause of mortality for free-ranging dogs as 62% of death or disappearance was due to human influence. The management of free-ranging dogs in urban habitats cannot be done unless we come to better understand the reliance of dogs on humans for their survival and factors that may affect their population later in life. As stated earlier, the removal of male pups causes a high death rate of females through road accidents due to the insignificant numbers of male and females that are in the population. So not only do humans affect the high mortality rate of free-ranging dogs at the beginning of their life, they also affect the ratio of males and females that attain sexual maturity. Although strangely, a random sampling from a population of free-ranging dogs from West Bengal shows that the sex ratio does not differentiate much from 1:1. This must be due to the mortality and spreading of adults.
This article has clearly demonstrated the relationship between populations of free-ranging dogs and populations of humans. Human population growth affects the mortality rate of free-ranging dogs in India.

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