Context and problem statement
Canine distemper is a disease with a broad host range, reported in all families of terrestrial carnivores (Deem et al. 2000), and highly prevalent among feral dogs in India. It is caused by the canine distemper virus (CDV), which belongs to the same family as those that cause measles and rinderpest, among others. Symptoms in infected animals can be very severe and can result in death. CDV spreads through nasal and oral routes, through contact with bodily and contaminated food and water. Canine distemper is a contagious and serious disease caused by a virus that attacks the respiratory, gastrointestinal and nervous systems of puppies and dogs.
Evolution of the virus has ensured that it spreads to species other than domestic dogs, such as big cats, causing the National Tiger Conservation Authority to issue a “Most Urgent Notification” to all tiger reserves in the country concerning the threat of CDV to tiger populations. Tiger, leopard and wild dog populations in India live in increasingly fragmented landscapes, with much of their home range adjacent to agricultural and inhabited areas. Large carnivores are also more closely related to domestic dogs and cats, as evidence of its intrusion into Indian lion, leopard and tiger populations shows (Balamurugan et al. 2012; Blythe et al. 1983). This makes them vulnerable to picking up the virus from domestic dog populations.
A study by a team of wildlife biologists and veterinarians notes that 86% of the tested dogs around Ranthambhore National Park in Rajasthan carried CDV antibodies in their bloodstream.
The implication of this is that the dogs are either currently infected or have been infected sometime in their life. This suggests that there is an increased risk of disease transfer from the dogs to tigers and leopards that live in the park.
In one of the biggest wildlife calamity India faced last year, over 20 wild lions from the Gir forest succumbed to the same viral infection. The outbreak was contained thanks to rapid response by the government and international team of experts. But now it seems that tigers are equally threatened by the infection.
Canine distemper has been reported in wild populations big cats (Panthera leo, Panthera tigris) in India, with some showing chronic encephalomyelitis as a result of CDV and seropositivity shown in local populations. CDV is suspected to have caused fatal epidemics of canids such as the jackals and bat-eared foxes in the Serengeti-Mara ecosystem of East Africa and a related virus caused a huge population collapse from neurological disease among the lion population of the Serengeti National Park, Tanzania, in 1994. This was thought to have been introduced by domestic dog populations alongside the park, who function as reservoirs for the virus.
There is a significant incidence of canine distemper in local dog populations, which live alongside wild carnivores in buffer zones of the national park. The disease also spreads easily and can easily make a jump to wild populations.
CDV vaccination programmes have been conducted in the past but with a few major drawbacks. The vaccine for CDV requires a booster in young dogs in order for it to be most effective. Re-catching the dogs is a problem as the dogs that have been vaccinated once, learn to avoid teams that return to carry out booster shots, reducing the effectivity of the vaccine. Additionally, domestic dogs in the area are often unhealthy, malnourished and carry a host of other infections.
This project is based on the current awareness that CDV vaccination programs are not very effective and that the virus is found in wild populations too. Animal birth control is most effective at phasing out the virus. As the project gets underway, the team will also vaccine those dogs that we think can sustain the CDV vaccination. In addition, this vaccine is a multi component vaccine which also protects dogs against a host of other diseases such as Parvo virus and leptospirosis which is fatal in wild Canidae.
The project aims to carry out an extensive animal birth control programme among domestic dog populations in 121 villages that lie within a two kilometre buffer zone along and from the boundary of the Bandipur National Park (BNP) in Karnataka. The aim is to sterilise 100% of domestic dogs that reside within or around these villages. This project aims to re-visit the same villages over a period of 4 to 5 years and operate on dogs that were missed or were pregnant on the previous project. This will substantially reduce the free ranging domestic dog populations in this fragile landscape. Previous estimations (survey done in 2015) of dog numbers in villages show that the dog population in the project area is anywhere between 1400 and 2500, with approximately 20 dogs per village.
Mariamma Charitable Trust (MCT) will be facilitating Dr Vijay Shankar Kamble of Animal Protection and Welfare Society (APAWS) and his team to carry out about 20 sterilisations per day, in as many of the targeted settlements as the budget can support. In addition, the animal will simultaneously receive anti rabies and CDV vaccinations and a general health check. The mobile veterinary team will consist of the veterinary doctor and dog catchers and support staff. They will move from village to village equipped with surgical tables, a small refrigerator, collapsable cages, dog catching equipment and basic medicines and vaccines and a portable generator.
Each captured dog will undergo sterilisation and anti-rabies/CDV multi component vaccination.
Animal Birth Control and its impact on wild carnivore populations: Controlling free ranging domestic dog populations will lower the risk of CDV transfer to endangered species that share close phylogenetic relationships with domestic dogs, such as tigers, leopards, wild dogs and jackals. Animal birth control remains the most effective way of phasing out reservoirs of the virus in the region. This complements other initiatives in the past that have attempted to vaccinate the domestic dog population but have failed to eradicate CDV.
Anti-rabies and its impact on communities: While there are many causes/ factors for the large numbers of stray dogs that are found in and around human settlements, one of the most immediate effects are seen in the number of bites and attacks on children. The villagers are forced to spend a lot on rabies treatment. Stray dogs serve an important role and guard the villages and farmers who spend nights protecting their crops from marauding wildlife. Having them vaccinated further protects the villagers, in particular the children, in the event of attacks and bites.
Project need and objectives:
A. Project objectives
1. Conducting ABC helps in controlling the spike in population of dogs which have the tendency to hunt wildlife
2. Vaccinating the dogs with ARV and Multi component vaccine (canine distemper , canine parvo virus, canine adeno virus, canine para influenza virus and leptospirosis.)
3. Vaccinating against rabies will protect the dog for a year and it benefits the community, livestock and wildlife with a reduced risk of rabies.
4. Multi component vaccination will protect the dog against 6 fatal diseases which dogs are prone to. The vaccine also keeps in check the spread of these diseases especially canine distemper to other strays and the wildlife.
5.To educate the community on wildlife protection and animal welfare.
B.Needs of the project:
1. A team of efficient doctors who are thorough and knowledgeable to avoid any errors pre and post surgery.
2. A team of not less than 5 dog handlers who can catch the dogs without harming them
3. Plan to install 5-6 temporary operation theatres where we can cover 4 to 6 villages for the sterilization program.
4. Require dog kennels for comfortable accommodation for post operative care
5. Purchase a second hand van for catching and releasing the dogs
6. For the surgery: a surgery table, prep table, small back up generator, small refrigerator to store medicines and vaccine, 25 sets of surgical instruments.
7. A Driver preferably local with a familiarity of the surrounding areas.
8. Nets for catching the dogs.
9. Food and accommodation for the employees and staff.
10. Food for dogs during post operative care.
11. All medication requirements.
Our goal is to conduct 1500 to 1800 sterilizations and vaccinations of stray dogs at fringe villages of Bandipur Tiger Reserve in the year 2022. A repeat of the same in , 2023, 2024, 2025 & 2026. Each time we carry out the project, the number of dogs we need to operate on will decrease. By the 5th. Year, the population of free ranging domestic dogs should be 100% controlled. We would then recommend that the project be carried out every once in 3 years.
1.To check the stray dog population around the fringe villages of Bandipur Tiger Reserve.
2. To reduce the transmission of contagious and fatal diseases to the wildlife, community and livestock.
3. Creating awareness to safeguard wildlife and maintain the balance in the ecosystem.
Name of the organization who will partner with The Mariamma Charitable Trust:
ANIMAL PROTECTION AND WELFARE SOCIETY.
Dr Vijay Kamble
Brief background of the organization:
The organization was registered on 8th MAY 2018. We started with the intention of trying to conduct ABC and anti rabies program in the most humane way. Our Mission is to give the best possible chances of survival and a life of dignity to stray animals. We want to create a balance and bring harmony to the ecosystem. We are trying our best to integrate these animals into the community. Our vision is to see the enthusiastic participation of communities towards creating a healthy and safe environment for all of us to thrive in our natural environment
We have conducted ABC and Anti Rabies Vaccination programs in following places
1. Different panchayaths of Udupi district, Govt of Karnataka.
2. Manipal, in association with Captains Animal Care Trust.
3.Gokarna, Karwar district.
4. Fringe villages of Bandipur Tiger Reserve for forest department, Karnataka .
5. Recently we worked in fringe villages of Bandipur Tiger Reserve in association with Mariamma Charitable Trust sterilizing 116 dogs.
Utilization of funds
- ANIMAL BIRTH CONTROL for 300 dogs @Rs.2,200/- each, Total Rs 6,60,000
- 4 dog catchers for 20 days @Rs.4000/- per day. Total = Rs 80,000
- Hiring of a cook for 20 days @Rs.600/ per day Total = Rs 12,000
- Dog cages 20 nos. (10 x 36" & 10 x 46" imported) Total = Rs 70,920
- Portable Fridge Total = Rs 6,500
- Portable generator Total = Rs 20,000
- Fuel for vehicle Total = Rs 21,000
- Purchasing Second hand van Total = Rs 5,00,000
- Hidden expenses (hiring of additional helpers, accommodation and food) Total = Rs 85,000
Thank you all for your support. :)