The fever for owning a Tibetan Mastiff has faded in China. [File photo: gmw.cn]
The increasing number of Tibetan Mastiffs, a kind of fierce domestic dog, in the wild is threatening the lives of wild animals like snow leopards in Sanjiangyuan, northwest China's Qinghai province.
The rare scene can be mainly attributed to the fading favour for the dogs in recent years. Lots of them, originally raised for sale in Qinghai province, have been abandoned by their owners, a report by sohu.com says.
Best known for their giant size and loyalty to their owners, Tibetan Mastiffs have been raised in almost every shepherd household in Sanjiangyuan to protect sheep from wolves.
About 10 years ago, a fever for owning a Tibetan Mastiff started to spread across China, especially among wealthy families in cities. At the peak of the trend, lots of buyers from east China came to Sanjiangyuan to find a pet, and a good Mastiff could be sold for as high as millions of yuan. Many people in Sanjiangyuan started to breed the dog.
However, the price for Tibetan Mastiffs started to plummet after 2010 and lots of dogs were abandoned, as the cost of feeding the giant dog is very high.
The abandoned Tibetan Mastiffs not only grab food from other wild animals, they also attack livestock and even people on the road. Environmental experts also warn that the dog could also bring fatal infectious diseases to other animals.
So far, the report says, about 5,000 stray Tibetan Mastiffs have been captured and cared for in 5 animal shelters in Yushu, an autonomous prefecture in Sanjiangyuan. However, authorities say more measures need to be taken as the abandoned Tibetan Mastiffs are still growing in number and they are not being taken care of in the rest of Sanjiangyuan.