Dholes – Asiatic Wild Dog In Northeast India; Facing Risk Of Extermination 

Posted in Featured, Northeast


  • Priyanka Sarkar

Dholes or ‘Asiatic Wild Dogs’, scientifically termed as Cuon alpinus, is a wild carnivorous animal belonging to the Canidae family, found in Central, South, East, and Southeast Asia. Originated from the ancient Asiatic origin, the word ‘dhole’ represents daring and intrepid personalities that suit this predator.

India’s north-eastern region has only recently been extensively examined for mammalian diversity due to its extensive forest cover.

Meanwhile, the Dampa Tiger Reserve in Mizoram supports a population of the dhole, which is recognized as a tiger competitor and sometimes incorrectly stigmatized for the near-absence of the large cat. It is considered as an important refuge for dholes in north-east India.

Its worthy to note that broad teeth and the exceptional sharp jaws, offers Dholes an ideal facial feature, making their body look more aligned. Weighing to an average of 40 pounds, dholes consist of 42 teeth, unlike other domestic dogs, and are brown in color that generally resides in groups, with 2-25 mates. Strategy, teamwork, speed, audacity, and courage make these dogs an efficient predator in the forest ecosystem.

With a bite force quotient of 132 BFQ, dholes are intelligent hunters that tire the prey by chasing and then attack. Once they catch the animal, other mates grab its nose while the rest of the dhole pulls it down by flanks, thereby killing prey up to 10 times its size.

Dholes use a unique eerie whistling sound to communicate with other individuals, concerning to high-pitched screams that differ from the other family of Canids. Their complex body language can communicate signs, including greetings or aggression, with distant vocal calls to coordinate with the pack.

In 2014, the first breeding center for dholes was constructed at Indira Gandhi Zoological Park. Among enormous carnivorous animals, dholes are the least studied predators listed in the IUCN Red List of Endangered Species, with a remaining of less than 2500 mature individuals.

Protected under Schedule 2 of the Wildlife Protection Act 1972 and Appendix 2 of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), the highest population of Dholes are found in India, with The Western Ghats, Central India, and Northeast India as its hub.

According to wildlife reports, the proliferated interferences from human persecution and habitat, dholes extirpate from 60 percent to their former range in the last 100 years. Depletion of prey bases has also been a threat to these Asiatic wild dogs- population of ungulates, the main prey of dholes is rapidly decreasing with excessive hunting and habitat loss.

Besides, constant persecution due to livestock predation and disease transfer attained from domestic and feral dogs have been an ongoing threat to the continual habitat loss of this apex predator.

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