Endangered Spotlight: Dhole

Dhole / Cuon alpinus
Current conservation status: Endangered
Population (as of 2015): 4,500-10,500

Siddhesh S. Nimkar / Wikimedia Commons

We hope more people will learn about these endangered animals that urgently need help. For the dhole, we decided to name our Dhole Backpack and Rolling Dhole Backpack after this furry predator.

About

Indian wild dog, whistling dog, mountain wolf — these canids are called many obscure names, but they are more commonly referred to as the dhole (pronounced “dole”). Some first impressions of this animal might be that it is cute and very much resembles a domestic dog, but the truth is dholes are highly social pack hunters that actually compete for food with larger predators such as tigers and leopards.

The dhole is an endangered canid species native to eastern and southern Asia. First recognized by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species as Vulnerable in 1986, they have recently been classified as Endangered since 2004. A key factor in the dhole’s decline has been the the loss of prey as a result of habitat loss. Farmers in India have also contributed by hunting dholes as sport or to protect their livestock until the species was guarded under the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972.

Threats

  • Hunting – People began to take up dhole hunting as a sport and would actually poison carcasses in hopes that a dhole pack would feed on the contaminated meal and be wiped out.
  • Loss of prey – Dholes mainly feed on ungulates such as deer and pig, but their populations have declined due to overhunting by humans.
  • Habitat loss – As more land is logged or industrialized, both dholes and their prey base lose their homes.

Conservation Efforts

  • Protected by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) Appendix II
  • India’s Wildlife Protection Act of 1972
  • Indian government is working to reserve protected areas for dhole populations to regrow, but it has been difficult because of the amount of land required for dhole packs.

What Can You Do

As a relatively unknown species, there are not many dedicated organizations to the protection of dholes, but research is still being conducted on what can be done to assist in conservation efforts. Some organizations are accepting donations toward dhole research.

David V. Raju / Wikimedia Commons

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