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Open Access Methodology article

A mark-resight survey method to estimate the roaming dog population in three cities in Rajasthan, India

Lex R Hiby1*, John F Reece2, Rachel Wright3, Rajan Jaisinghani4, Baldev Singh4 and Elly F Hiby5

Author Affiliations

1 Conservation Research Ltd., 110 Hinton Way, Great Shelford, Cambridge CB22 5AL, UK

2 Help in Suffering, Maharani Farm, Durgapura, Jaipur 302018, Rajasthan, India

3 Tree of Life for Animals, Kharekhari Village, Nr Foy Sagar, Ajmer 301005, Rajasthan, India

4 Marwar Animal Protection Trust, Maanpura, Dardyaon ki Dhani, Jhalamand - Khejarli Road, Jodhpur, Rajasthan, India

5 World Society for Protection of Animals, 222 Grays Inn Road, London, WC1X 8HB, UK

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BMC Veterinary Research 2011, 7:46  doi:10.1186/1746-6148-7-46

Published: 11 August 2011



Dog population management is required in many locations to minimise the risks dog populations may pose to human health and to alleviate animal welfare problems. In many cities in India, Animal Birth Control (ABC) projects have been adopted to provide population management. Measuring the impact of such projects requires assessment of dog population size among other relevant indicators.


This paper describes a simple mark-resight survey methodology that can be used with little investment of resources to monitor the number of roaming dogs in areas that are currently subject to ABC, provided the numbers, dates and locations of the dogs released following the intervention are reliably recorded. We illustrate the method by estimating roaming dog numbers in three cities in Rajasthan, India: Jaipur, Jodhpur and Jaisalmer. In each city the dog populations were either currently subject to ABC or had been very recently subject to such an intervention and hence a known number of dogs had been permanently marked with an ear-notch to identify them as having been operated. We conducted street surveys to record the current percentage of dogs in each city that are ear-notched and used an estimate for the annual survival of ear-notched dogs to calculate the current size of each marked population.


Dividing the size of the marked population by the fraction of the dogs that are ear-notched we estimated the number of roaming dogs to be 36,580 in Jaipur, 24,853 in Jodhpur and 2,962 in Jaisalmer.


The mark-resight survey methodology described here is a simple way of providing population estimates for cities with current or recent ABC programmes that include visible marking of dogs. Repeating such surveys on a regular basis will further allow for evaluation of ABC programme impact on population size and reproduction in the remaining unsterilised dog population.