Delhi is an ideal laboratory for conducting work on urban ecologies. The city has an estimated livestock population of 0.36 million, most of which are reared by marginalized castes situated in informal settlements, unregulated and apparently invisible to the state. The presence of cattle on the city’s streets spark contestations over the access of the commons, whilst a population of three to five hundred thousand street dogs generate frictions regarding urban belonging. The state also seeks to regulate and control urban macaques, and have relocated close to twenty-thousand animals to the city’s outskirts in the last fifteen years. The regulation of nonhuman life in the city is intricately enmeshed in an aesthetics of creating a global capital and world-class city.
Long-standing cultural dimensions to human-animal dynamics makes Delhi an interesting case for investigation. As religious symbols, cattle and macaques are venerated. Everyday practices of commensality foster animal life. Culture also plays a role in street dog prevalence and control. The canines are provisioned by different sections of society, whilst the state and certain NGOs work to regulate dog populations through neutering. Histories of urbanization in Delhi, the distinct modes through which cultivated, feral and wild ecologies flourish, and the situated forms of controlling nonhuman life enable developing new insights into postcolonial urbanism.