Preventing Volcanoes National Park from going to the Dogs: Reducing and Controlling Feral and Free Ranging Dogs in and around Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda

3 Jul 2020 Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda, Africa Carnivores | Communities | Education | Mammals

Nzayisenga Gaspard

The main aim of the project is to curtail the damage caused by feral and free ranging dogs to wildlife in and around the park. This will be achieved through field capturing of these dogs and building the capacity (through field training) of park rangers who will be monitoring and capturing feral and free ranging dogs in the park. This paralleled with community sensitization to promote responsible dog ownership will contribute to reducing the increase of the feral and free ranging dog population. The project also aims to understand attitudes and perceptions of dog owners towards dogs, motivations and reasons why they keep dogs and why do they allow dogs to go feral and to raise the public consciousness with regard to the impact of feral and free ranging dogs on wildlife and human health. The project will also document the extent and type of damage caused by these dogs.

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Feral and Free ranging dogs have emerged as a threat to wildlife in Volcanoes National Park presenting a conservation concern. Of recent, feral and free ranging dogs are killing wildlife at an alarming rate. Antelopes (e.g. duikers and bushbucks) and monkeys (Golden Monkeys) are the major victims of these dogs. Although the direct killing of wildlife is the most apparent form of damage, dogs also harass or chase endemic species, which results in non-use of some areas and may affect the breeding success of native species. This form of biologic invasion may also seriously affect wildlife in the form or pathogen transmission. In long run if the dog issue is not addressed, they might pose a danger to the endangered species like Mountain Gorillas (Gorilla beringei beringei).

Therefore, this project seeks to prevent and control feral and free ranging dogs in and around Volcanoes National Park. In this regard the following activities will be undertaken in order to address the dog issue in and around Volcanoes National Park:

a) Trapping feral and free ranging dogs in and around the National Park using humane methods to reduce their numbers mostly in the National Park.

b) Undertaking a questionnaire survey among dog owners living in the vicinity of the park to assess the motivations and reasons for keeping dogs and reasons why dog owners allow them to go feral.

c) Community outreach activities to sensitize dog owners on the dangers of allowing dogs to go feral and their impact on wildlife and public health.

d) Training rangers who will be at the forefront of monitoring and trapping feral and free ranging dogs mostly in the national Park during and after the project timeline.

e) Documenting different types of damage caused by dogs to wildlife in the park

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