Q: My question is on the Indian wild dog: is there any research going on regarding behaviour study and selection of prey base?

Asked by Mallesh R

Answer from Arjun Srivathsa, Research Associate, Wildlife Conservation Society-India:

It is not very easy to carry out behavioural studies of elusive carnivores (like the dhole) because of several logistical difficulties. A rigorous scientific study of wild dog behaviour is only possible through radio-collaring of individuals (radio telemetry). But their wide-ranging habits, erratic disease/population cycles and the fact that they are pack-living, make telemetry difficult. This has been tried once in India before — in the Central Indian landscape — but with little success. Most other behavioural studies are based on opportunistic observations of some packs/individuals. Some dhole biologists are attempting telemetric studies in Southeast Asia. However, currently there is no such on-going behavioural research on dholes in India.

Selection of prey base: There are extensive studies on dietary profiles and preferences of dholes, thanks to the fact that such studies rely only on collection and analysis of scats (faeces), which is relatively easy. Diet profiles and prey selection studies of dholes have been conducted across most parts of their geographic range — Western Ghats, Central India, Eastern Himalayas, Nepal, Bhutan and some countries in Southeast Asia like Laos, Thailand,and Viet Nam. Prey hair in scats are identified through established lab protocols.

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