Monkey Forest Tales: Some thoughts about domestic dogs and cats

Although we love our pets, specially dogs and cats, we cannot forget that they came from predator ancestors, who use to hunt in pacts in the case of dogs or alone in the case of cats. Therefore, they still have in their genes that instinct to hunt even if we tamed.
Today post we are going to talk about domestic dogs and cats effects at the study area. In past months there was an article about the effect of domestic cats on Australian fauna and the results were just terrible for wildlife, from birds, lizards, frogs and small mammals. Although there is not that kind of information for Colombia, for sure there is an effect on domestic dogs and cats.
At the study site, the effects on the wildlife are not clear. There is dogs and cats at every farm and palm oil plantation in the study area. They move around freely and through all farms without any restrictions. Around houses cats hunt small birds, preying on nest and small birds learning to fly, small rodents and rats.
At the forest fragments, live fences and wire fences dogs attacks monkeys, tamanduas, coatis and other mammals. At cattle pastures dogs also attacks giant ant eaters and sometimes other domestic animals, like goats.
Over the past 16 years, we have witness at least two confirmed successful dog attacks, both on black-capped capuchins (Sapajus apella). At least three more unsuccessful attempts were witness on Colombian squirrel monkeys (Saimiri cassiquiarensis albigena). There has been local people reports on dog attacks on red howler monkeys, especially when they move on the ground through pastures from one fragment to another.
In the past two years local workers from one of the farms with which we work reported a group of at least four dogs from a near palm oil plantation hunting in the forest fragment where we have been monitoring monkeys for more than a decade.
Although we will need a more detailed information of how domestic dogs are affecting the wildlife in the area, at least we know the presence and probably the freedom with which we are handling our domestic dogs and cats is affecting the wildlife living in highly fragmented areas.
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