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Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Threat to wildlife from carnivorous pets: A case of cat attacking Indian Pipistrelle Pipistrellus coromandra (Gray, 1838)

Preeti S. Virkar and Shivam Shrotriya

Citation: Virkar, Preeti S, and  Shrotriya, Shivam. 2013. “Threat to Wildlife from Carnivorous Pets : A Case of Cat Attacking Indian Pipistrelle Pipistrellus Coromandra (Gray, 1838).” Zoo’s Print XXVIII (8): 25–27.

Ecology of urban wildlife is sparsely known despite its relevance in sustaining exclusive populations of many species and instilling environmental awareness among citizens. While a number of species have adapted to human modified habitats, domestic pets pose an impending risk to their populations. We report such an incidence from the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) campus in Dehradun, Uttarakhand (30˚ 17' 2.47"N 77˚ 58' 30.48"E), a semi-natural habitat of forest and human-built areas with a large interface between wild and domestic life. On April 15, 2013, at 22:15 hrs, a semi-domesticated cat was spotted with an unusual hunt. A small bat was rescued from its mouth. The rescued animal was still alive, injured with visible but very small blood stain, a hole in patagia, and breathing rapidly.
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Carnivorous pets, if kept without movement restrictions, can follow their natural instincts and hunt available prey in the surroundings. While their populations are sustained by human food provisioning (pet food and garbage), they are known to kill their natural prey as substitute food. Stray dogs have been reported forming hunting packs and killing wild animals as well as livestock (Bhatta 2008; Habib et al.2013). Cats particularly have been reared in homes to hunt on rodents for thousands of years. A considerable impact of domestic cats on wildlife of the United States of America has been estimated where free-ranging domestic cats kill 1.4–3.7 billion birds and 6.9–20.7 billion mammals annually (Loss et al. 2013). Presence of domestic/semi-domestic cats and dogs turns into a concerning issue around wild/semi-wild habitats. Such areas are not only important for big, charismatic, well-known and threatened species, but also for small, cryptic, ignored and often Data Deficient (DD) species. Carnivorous pets around such areas could impose a threat to many small mammals, birds and reptiles by hunting them, and such events should be avoided to the best possible extent.
 Read the complete article here.

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