The fundamental metric that we need for assessing and monitoring the status of threatened or endangered species is the population size, i.e., we are typically interested in finding out how many individuals of a species currently exist. Unfortunately, estimating these numbers is a daunting task because most endangered animals– especially those that live in dense tropical forests– are rare, secretive and elusive. For animals that have individual markings (like the stripes of a tiger, spots of a cheetah, rosettes of … Read More
The increase in human-driven impacts on the natural world continues to threaten the survival of several species of wildlife. Many endangered species that currently survive in small populations across isolated habitats are particularly vulnerable. It is important to not only conserve these small populations but also enable movement of individuals between them. Facilitating ‘connectivity’ of populations and habitats is therefore a key conservation issue. The Asiatic wild dog (dhole) is one of many endangered species that can benefit from connectivity … Read More
India hosts a wide diversity of carnivores in a relatively small fraction of the global land area. Unfortunately, a lot of these carnivores are at risk of extinction with barely any information on their populations, nor methods available to monitor them. The Asiatic wild dog or dhole (cuon alpinus) ranks among the most threatened carnivores in the world. Till date, monitoring their populations has proven to be a challenge because dholes do not have visible distinguishing features such as stripes … Read More
Country-level species conservation plans serve as a blueprint for identifying important areas, prioritizing management actions and judicious use of conservation funds. India is a biologically megadiverse country, yet many threatened and endangered species do not have science-based conservation plans. In a new study, scientists from Wildlife Conservation Society–India (WCS-India), University of Florida, Wildlife Conservation Trust (WCT), and National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS) propose a detailed framework for conserving the endangered dhole in India using a combination of ecological, social, … Read More
We are in our fourth year of Polling for Pakke, an initiative where people vote for their favourite camera trapping images based on which forest department staff are then given prizes. So far more than 1000 voters have helped pick the best camera trap images from Pakke Tiger Reserve. Our voters have included the head of Arunachal Forest Department Force, scientists such as Dr. George Schaller and the widow of Karo Tayem, who won the 1st prize in the first … Read More
India has a wide diversity of carnivores that represent multiple unique ecosystems like forests, grasslands, scrublands, open / barren lands, deserts, ravines and the trans-Himalayan plains. A recent study by researchers from Wildlife Conservation Society–India, University of Florida (USA), Ashoka Trust for Ecology and the Environment, Wildlife Conservation Trust, National Centre for Biological Sciences and James Cook University (Australia) proposes that protecting wild dogs or dholes, jackals, wolves, foxes and hyenas, and their habitats, can offer incredible potential to expand … Read More
Dholes or Asiatic wild dogs (Cuon alpinis) are among the least-studied large carnivores in the world. The IUCN Red List assessment (2015) categorizes the dhole as an Endangered species. With fewer than 2,500 mature individuals remaining in the wild – across 11 countries in South and Southeast Asia – the dhole may be facing a crisis far more severe than the tiger or elephant. India has the highest dhole population in the world, in three key landscapes: the Western Ghats, … Read More
We witnessed an astonishing natural history moment while on a ride inside Nagarahole Tiger Reserve on the 20th of September, 2017.
Just as the rain stopped in the morning in the Kabini area of the park, our safari jeep came upon a tiger facing off with a large pack of dholes. The crouching tiger seemed ready to pounce, when a bike-borne forest department staffer came riding between them, inadvertently chasing both away. The tiger disappeared into a bush, so we … Read More
The Asiatic wild dog or dhole (Cuon alpinus) is pack-living apex predator found in south and southeast Asia, currently threatened with endangerment. Dholes are generally restricted to protected forest habitats, but also occur in reserve forests and production agroforests (like tea and coffee plantations). The recent IUCN Red List assessment suggests that there may be 1000–2000 adult, mature dholes left in the wild. Despite its precarious status, the dhole remains one of the least studied large carnivores in the world. … Read More
Large carnivores across the world face several threats even as they continue to decline in numbers. Understanding where these species occur, how they use their habitats and what factors influence these patterns are important for their conservation. The Asiatic wild dog or dhole (Cuon alpinus) is a unique endangered predator. It is the only social, wild canid that almost exclusively inhabits forest areas in Asia. Historically treated as ‘vermin’, dholes were bounty-hunted across the India until they were protected under … Read More
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 — … Read More
During a morning drive around Nagarahole national park, Karnataka, in March 2013, we encountered a pack of 5-6 dholes (Cuon alpinus) close to the forest office. There were a few pups playing around, even climbing a tree. Being highly social, playing is helpful in cementing bonds between pack members, besides being fun! (Adult dholes too will sometimes climb onto sloping tree trunks or termite mounds – Ed). Pack sizes may sometimes swell to over 20, but will usually then split … Read More
We came across a pack of 18 dholes or Asiatic Wild Dog (Cuon alpinus) at Bandipur National Park. The pack was getting ready to attack an elephant herd with two calves. After a few attempts, the dholes moved on. A few minutes later, we heard the call of a gaur and moved forward. In an open area, we saw the dholes attacking a gaur calf while the mother tried to protect it.
As the cries of the calf and the … Read More
On Sunday, June 22, 2014 we set out from Karkala, as usual, for a birdwatching and photography trip. We decided to explore Samse village close to Kudremukh town.
The monsoon got delayed this year, but it did rain heavily in the 3rd week of June. We were enjoying a downpour while driving through the dense shola forest of Kudremukh NP. At around 10:35AM we reached the South Canara Border (SK border), on to the left of the road I saw … Read More
This image was taken on June 3rd, 2014 at Anamalai Tiger Reserve (ATR) in Tamil Nadu. We were driving from Aliyar in the foothills to Valparai and a group of around 50 tourists were cheering and screaming, we got down to see what was going on. An amazing drama was unfolding in front of us — a herd of elephants (7) were chasing away a pack of dhole (around 20) along the banks of the Aliyar reservoir!
As this road … Read More
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