A semi-feral animal lives predominantly in a feral state but has some contact and experience with humans.
‘I do not have any worries regarding how they will survive because Bali dogs will always find a way to do it. But the ones that cannot be controlled; virus, disease and overpopulation are really impacting the whole system. A major concern is a future resurgence of the terrifying Rabies virus.’ Agra Utari
Bali dogs are semi-feral, their food source comes from human leftovers. Whether they forage for scraps or are directly offered food they have been interconnected with humans since whenever. By collective design and mindset, the relationship with their island humans is well documented and is proven to be symbiotic in nature.
In a COVID reality, Bali dogs who permanently reside in rural areas and village settings appear to be little if any affected. Their daily existence appears to be running to normal Banjar routines, rituals and ceremonies. The main change has been an influx of family members who have lost their jobs in tourism and those returning from docked cruise ships. Of course, this human increase will affect availability of food offered but can also increase scrap availability. Their urban compatriots may not fare so well, especially if the virus continues to shut down the island regarding incoming international tourists.
Over the past 20ish years foreign tourist numbers have exploded exponentially on an island that was ill-equipped to sustain the year by year increase. The Bali Street (Urban) Dog is a true street fighter/survivor but even their genetic tenacity could not withstand the tsunami of tourist footfall. They were driven out, poisoned and retreated to back alleys, family compounds and open space beach areas. Their numbers decreased drastically. The madness of money easily ruled over meaningless mutt.
International, local and individual dedicated street feeders have consistently topped up food that was unavailable to those dogs left roaming an ever-encroaching urban concrete jungle. Their efforts in most cases kept the population stable and prevented an inevitable total collapse and in effect an eradication of the Island dog in those areas.
With the shuttering of a tropical island hot spot and the drying up of donation funding to organizations and individuals it is inevitable that Bali dog numbers will increase. Their breeding cycle is biannually, and each bitch can deliver 4-6 pups. With sterilization programmes curtailed or cancelled the explosion of canine population could be impressive, to say the least. If COVID world continues as is for another 12 months the increase in Bali dog numbers could go a long way to replenishing what was killed off before during and after the Rabies virus incursion.
With an unimaginable reduction in all manner of traffic on usually year-round teeming roads and byways it is inevitable that Bali dogs will begin to wander out and test before feeling free to use the space and do what street dogs do. Roam and forage. Reports worldwide show animals taking up the space left by mass human social distancing.
Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) may end up being a gift for the re-population and natural free roaming instinctive/lifestyle for the Bali Indigenous Street/Urban Dog. Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) if extended by months or years thereby horrifically exacerbating the already economic and emotional torment could very well herald not only the collapse of a unique ancient human way of life but put the already endangered Bali street dog firmly in the cross hairs. Add the planets most ancient and long-lasting virus (Rabies) to the mix and you have an unthinkable disaster that would make the Rabies fear on Bali 2010 look like a picnic.
There are endless amounts of questions in this fast changing COVID world reality that is throwing any sense of human normality out of control. In a very real sense, we are all semi-feral. Contact with and dependency on each and all others is unavoidable for survival.
History will tell the latest story of the Bali dog journey in a COVID world. Bali Street Dog and Bali Rural Dog are genetically one and the same. For now, both are at the fate of a virus that is using human to human vectoring to spread its disease.
It is hoped that the ancient bond between human and canine can withstand its greatest test. A global pandemic that is driving connection between all beings further and further apart.