Nainital: The Jim Corbett National Park, which has one of the densest tiger populations in the country, is facing a threat.
A survey, conducted by Humane Society International, India in October 2015, found that out of the 17, 061 dogs living in the 5 kilometers buffer zone around the Jim Corbett National Park, 13,378 of them were not vaccinated against any kind of diseases.
This is for the first time, a dog population survey, commissioned by the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), has been completed inside an Indian wildlife reserve to determine how many vaccinations are needed to stop and prevent canine diseases from transferring to the felines in the reserve.
Research shows that tigers and leopards in the sanctuary are at risk from canine diseases like rabies, parvo and distemper, all viruses that can be transferred from canine to feline. Tigers and leopards prey on these dogs and can be infected.
"This survey is the first step towards the Free Roaming Dog Population Program that will help in further protecting the dogs and the wildlife habitat. After the survey, we now wish to vaccinate the dogs and identify if any are already infected," said Rahul Sehgal, director of HSI/Asia.
Dr Amit Chaudhari, who led the team in conducting the survey, said that the majority of the dogs in this buffer zone are either owned by the villagers or are in their care.
"There are innumerable instances wherein the dogs are snatched away at night by the big cats. Largely unaware of these infections and the available vaccinations for it, the villagers have not given vaccinations to these dogs," Chaudhari added.
HSI presented the results last week to officials of the National Tiger Conservation Authority in New Delhi. HSI is currently preparing a proposal for the NTCA to take this project into the next phase of vaccinating the dogs as a pilot project that can be then extended to other national parks of the country. The vaccination drive will not only create a healthy habitat for the wildlife but also for the humans inhabiting these areas, making it a first of its kind project in India.
(With ANI inputs)