A cost-effective estimation of the number of free-roaming dogs is an essential prerequisite for the control of rabies in countries where the disease is endemic, as vaccination of at least 70% of the population is recommended to effectively control the disease. Although estimating the population size through sight-resight based maximum likelihood methodology generates an estimate closest to the actual size, it requires at least five survey efforts to achieve this. In a rural setting in India, a reliable estimate of at least 70% of the likely true population of free-roaming dogs was obtained with the Application SuperDuplicates shinyapp online tool using a photographic sight-resight technique through just two surveys. We tested the wider applicability of this method by validating its use in urban settings in India. Sight-resight surveys of free-roaming dogs were conducted in 15 sectors of the Panchkula Municipal Corporation in north India during September- October 2016. A total of 1,408 unique dogs were identified through 3,465 sightings on 14 survey tracks. The estimates obtained by the Application SuperDuplicates shinyapp online tool after two surveys were compared with the maximum likelihood estimates and it was found that the former, after two surveys, provided an estimate that was at least 70% of that obtained by the latter after 5–6 surveys. Thus, the Application SuperDuplicates shinyapp online tool provides an efficient means for estimating the minimum number of free-roaming dogs to vaccinate with a considerably lower effort than the traditional mark-resight based methods. We recommend use of this tool for estimating the vaccination target of free-roaming dogs prior to undertaking mass vaccination efforts against rabies.
|Publication Title||Frontiers in Veterinary Science|
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