What has the Swachh Bharat campaign got to do with dogs? Well, Indian experts have found that managing how garbage is dumped and handled can help in controlling the population of strays in urban areas.
While dog lovers have a way with free-ranging dogs or strays, for the municipal authorities and health management officials, it's a problem of plenty: more dogs mean more littering and the risk of rabies spreading.
Behavioural biologist Anindita Bhadra, who works on the behaviour and ecology of stray dogs, says her research has shown street dogs are essentially scavengers and extremely capable of selectively sniffing out meat protein in garbage bins.
“Hence, in order to manage dog populations on streets, it is essential to manage garbage, and ensure that there are no open bins and garbage dumps within city limits," Bhadra, founding chairperson of the Indian National Young Academy of Science (INYAS), said over the phone from Mohanpur in West Bengal.
Bhadra and her team of student researchers showed through innovative methods like the “chicken smell” experiment that strays will virtually go for anything that smells meaty, irrespective of the nutrient content.
“While the food provided by humans is dominated by carbohydrates, food obtained through foraging attempts is rich in animal proteins,” she said.