Stray dogs and poor waste management

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Source– The post is based on the article “Stray dogs and poor waste management” published in “The Hindu” on 1st May 2023.

Syllabus: GS1- Urbanisation, GS 3 – Human – Wildlife Conflict

Relevance– issue of Stray dogs in urban areas

News– In April, a 65-year-old woman in Srinagar was attacked by street dogs outside her home. A garbage collection point was situated in front of her house.

How does poor solid waste management contribute to dog bites?

The ability of a city to support a species is determined by the availability of food and shelter. Free-ranging dogs, in the absence of these facilities, are scavengers. They search around for food, and eventually look for garbage dumping sites.

A population boom in Indian cities has contributed to a staggering rise in solid waste. Indian cities generate more than 1,50,000 metric tonnes of urban solid waste every day.

According to a United Nations Environment Program 2021 report, an estimated 931 million tonnes of food was wasted in 2019. Indian homes on average generated 50 kg of food waste per person.

This waste often serves as a source of food for hungry and free-roaming dogs. They move towards densely-populated areas in cities, such as urban slums which are usually located next to garbage dumping sites and landfills.

Urban dogs are believed to have a distinct set of traits as compared to rural dogs. They have learnt to develop survival techniques in hostile urban environments.

What are some statistics about stray dog population and dog bites in India?

Cities have witnessed a sharp increase in the stray dog population. As per the official 2019 livestock census, it stood at 1.5 crore. However, independent estimates peg the number to be around 6.2 crore.

The number of dog bites has simultaneously doubled between 2012 and 2020. India has the highest rabies burden in the world. It accounts for a third of global deaths caused due to the disease.

How unplanned urbanisation is linked to the stray dogs problem?

In 2015, a study conducted in 10 Indian metro cities found a strong link between human population, the amount of municipal and food waste generated, and the number of stray dogs in the cities.

It argued that the present mode of urbanisation and paradigm of development promotes urban sprawls, slums, and disparity. With the development of cities, managing solid waste has become a daunting challenge. It is aiding the proliferation of stray dogs.

There may be a correlation between urbanisation and solid waste production. Weak animal birth control programmes, insufficient rescue centres,and poor waste management, result in a proliferation of street animals in India.

Most landfills and dumping sites are located on the peripheries of cities, next to slums and settlement colonies. Thus, the disproportionate burden of dog bites may also fall on people in urban slums.

A study published in 2016 found that the prevalence of dog bites was higher in urban slums than rural slums.

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