The Asian wild dog or Dhole (Cuon alpinus) is a beautiful, large member of the Canidae family. The dhole is found in a variety of vegetation types in Tibet, Vietnam, Bhutan, Thailand, Laos, Malaysia, Indonesia and India. Their range is severely fragmented and there are a little more than 2000 individuals left in the wild. The dhole is classified as endangered on the IUCN Red List.
The pack of 5-10 individuals, usually hunts as a group. Some dholes in the pack lie in an ambush while others drive the prey towards them. This technique enables them to catch relatively large prey such as sambar deer, chital deer, young gaur and water buffalo. Many of their prey species are unfortunately also threatened and highly reduced in numbers. This drives the dhole to prey on livestock such as cattle or goats in some areas. Historically, many dholes were persecuted through poisoning, trapping, shooting and killing of pups at dens when seen as a threat to livestock.
Still today illegal persecution occurs, but varies in its extent between regions. Habitat loss and deforestation are also of large concern for the survival of the dhole. Potential dhole habitat is rapidly being transformed into agricultural land and human settlements. Another problem is disease and pathogens transmitted from a growing number of free-living feral dogs. Relatively little attention has been given to the dhole and few conservation efforts are focused on this species. However, protection of larger predators such as tigers and leopards has been beneficial to the dhole.
This magnificent species deserves more attention. Raised awareness is essential for its future survival.
Find out more about this and other forgotten species on the website of the Photographers for Conservation, who have also provided EOCA with many of the wonderful wildlife images on this website.