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Summer Research Fellowship Programme of India's Science Academies

Behavioral study of free ranging dogs in a closed urban population.

B. Mohana Priya

Bharathidasan University, Tiruchirappalli, Tamil Nadu 620024.

Dr. Maria Thaker

Associate Professor, Centre for Ecological Sciences, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, Karnataka 560012.

ABSTRACT

Free ranging dogs are an ubiquitous part of human habitation. They are descendants of pack-living wolves which underwent domestication. Both in urban and rural habitats, they co-exist with humans and depend mainly on them for their food and sometimes shelter. Most of the free ranging dogs in India and many parts of the world do not get proper food, they are underweight and are zoonotic carriers. Free ranging dogs are the main hosts for rabies and 99% of all human deaths caused by rabies is due to dog bites. Vaccination and Animal Birth Control Programs are impractical due to the larger population of dogs. Mass killing has also been unsuccessful, since dog populations are replaced quickly due to high birth rate of dogs. In this project, behavioral analysis of free ranging dogs was done in a closed urban population, where the environment, food habits etc., of the dogs varies from that of the other free ranging dog populations. Vaccination and neutering is also possible due to the finite population and there is low probability of new incoming dogs inside this closed population. The campus of Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore is taken as the study area and it was split into four quadrants. Focal observations of free ranging dogs in each quadrat was done for 15 minutes at different timings between 06:00 to 21:00. The behavior of dogs is categorized into: Rest, Movement, Social Interaction and Feeding. The duration of each behavior showed by the dog in the 15 minutes interval of time was recorded. Any unusual behavior was also noted. The food source and the type of food they ate was also recorded during the observation period. We speculate that the finite population of free ranging dogs in the campus would exhibit behaviors that facilitate commensalism and minimize human animal conflicts. Closed controlled environments would be an alternative way for Animal welfare organizations to manage the free ranging dogs as well as to prevent humans from becoming a prey to rabies.

Keywords: Stray dogs, feral, behavior, closed controlled environment

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