The role of canids in conservation of India’s wildlife

Back in May, we were hugely excited to receive the news that footage of a wolf had been captured in Karnataka, Southern India.

This sighting signified an important milestone for many reasons as it is now known for sure that all four large mammal species of the dog family (Canis sp.) found in southern India inhabit the protected areas in the Chamarajnagara district. These four species are the Indian grey wolf, Bengal fox, dhole, and jackal.

Since then, a report has revealed that protecting the various species of canid living in India is  vital to the country’s wildlife conservation efforts as a whole.

Whilst India’s conservation efforts have historically focused on larger fauna such as tigers and elephants, in order to promote biodiversity across the subcontinent this new study points towards the role of smaller carnivores as flagship species in supporting wider ecosystems.

By collecting data on distribution and range over two years, scientists were able to build up a clearer picture of how these species interact with their environment and how they impact their ecosystems. This data supports scientists’ recommendation that more efforts be made to protect these species as representatives for India’s networks of wildlife and landscapes.

The species of canid included in the study also represent the wider issue of human-wildlife conflict, as they often roam closer to and interact more with human populations and activity. It has therefore been helpful for conservationists to understand more about the behaviour of these animals so that they can provide informed suggestions of how to engage local populations with efforts to protect them.

Going forward, plans are being made to educate and generate awareness amongst people who share spaces with these species, and the study has informed site-specific strategies to be devised so as to ensure that both wildlife and human experience minimal conflict.

You can read more about the study here.