In the last century, the human species has multiplied enormously and has also invaded the last, previously untouched refuges. Man’s constant companion in this conquest was his “best friend” – the dog. While many animal species are threatened with extinction, the dog population grew to around 1 billion dogs.

Largely ignored by the public, the domestic dog has become one of the world’s most damaging invasive predators. He is responsible for massive environmental damage. This is particularly evident in Brazil, reports the Washington Post. In Brazil, which is certainly rich in children, there are said to be far more dogs than children. There they are considered the most destructive predator of all. Dogs are helped by their great adaptability and their ability to hunt in packs. About 15 animals get together and go hunting together.

In nature reserves and national parks, they displace native predators such as foxes and big cats. There their numbers now far exceed those of pumas and ocelots. Researchers estimate that there are more than 100 dogs that hunt in packs in Tijuca National Park outside Rio de Janeiro alone.

Ana Maria Paschoal, a scientist at the Federal University of Minas Gerais, monitored 2,400 hectares of forest with automatic cameras. The results were shocking. The dog was not only the largest predator in the area, it was the most abundant mammal in the forest. And none of the animals really lived free. They were part-time predators, all of which had an owner. A dangerous combination: As humans move further into Brazil’s forest areas, dogs will follow them and establish large hunting grounds around the settlements. The closer people settle to protected areas, the more dogs are already entering these spaces.

The native fauna has little to oppose the introduced predators worldwide. The International Union for Conservation of Nature estimates that 191 species are critically endangered by dogs. The problem is particularly evident in Brazil because the country is extremely dog-friendly. The friendly family dog ​​is seen as an asset by rich and poor alike. The typical dog characteristics such as loyalty and attachment to a family are considered to be exemplary. However, the classic family dogs are not a problem for the wild animals. If owned by the upper or middle class, the dogs lead a life like in Europe. Their daily routine is determined by canned food and walks. In case of health problems, the owners go to the veterinarian.

In the poor and rural communities the situation is very different. Here, the lives of domestic animals – like people – are shaped by hunger. Owners can’t feed their dogs enough, so they roam the area day and night in search of food.

The biologist Katyucha Silva had to realize that the animals in the Tijuca forest near Rio de Janeiro were being decimated by dogs from the favelas. Animals that were specially released into the wild. “The owners are people who are very poor,” said Silva. “They have no money to build walls around their huts. When the owners go to work, the dog also goes hunting and only returns when the owner comes home from work.”

Incidentally, in the eternal dispute between dog and cat lovers, the cat faction can’t score any points here. A 2017 Australian study published a ranking of the most harmful mammals. Dogs came in third, behind cats and rodents.

Quelle: “Washington Post”

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