Asiatic wild dogs surface in forests around Udhagamandalam town

Experts stress efforts to prevent problematic human-animal interaction

In the last few months, Asiatic wild dogs have been seen with increasing frequency in the forests surrounding Marlimund Lake that borders Udhagamandalam town. Conservationists said the recent sightings highlighted the importance of these small forests bordering major towns in the Nilgiris, and the need to sensitise residents to preventing problematic human-animal interactions.

In the last few weeks, residents have recorded a sloth bear making its way into the town from the lake. Also, a number of Sambar Deer carcasses, with signs of having been hunted by Asiatic wild dogs, were being seen around the lake.

K. Saravanakumar, Assistant Conservator of Forests (Nilgiris division), said that while lake was under the control of the Udhagamandalam Municipality, forest staff had been informed of the presence of around 10-15 wild dogs in the area.

“It is unclear if they are just passing through or if they have moved into the forests surrounding the lake permanently,” said Mr. Saravanakumar. The Forest Department would use camera traps to learn more about the behaviour of the wild dogs in the area.

N. Sadiq Ali, an environmentalist and Founder of the Wildlife and Nature Conservation Trust (WNCT), said leopards too were seen in the area. “We are witnessing wildlife re-establishing in areas surrounding major towns in the Nilgiris, due to increased protection of animals such as deer and other herbivores. As a result, carnivores are also moving into these forests to prey on these animals,” he said. He also stressed on the need for sensitisation campaigns.

“The forest department should advise people to stay out of these forests, and to not leave their homes after nightfall, as this is usually the time when there is a high chance for problematic interactions,” he said.

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