Common Name: Dhole
Latin Name: Cuon alpinus
Location: eastern and southern Asia
Conservation Status: Endangered
The dhole (pronounced like dole) is a wild canid species that look similar to a red fox, but larger in size at around 2 feet at the shoulder. Dholes, like wolves or African wild dogs, live and hunt in a pack. Pack hunters might watch and stalk their prey to test the animals they are hunting, and will go for slower and potentially weaker prey. That means dholes are taking the worst of the herd, which in the long run benefits not only the hunter, but the prey and ecosystem as a whole. This could make the dhole, much like it has been proven with wolves, a keystone species.
Many people have never heard of dholes, and they have historically been overlooked with very few studies done to determine their conservation needs. Biologists use camera traps and place GPS tracking collars on dholes from different packs. The data recorded helps us learn where the dholes travel or if they roam too close to areas where dogs or feral pigs live. This is dangerous because when these animals and wildlife meet they can spread diseases, and the already small dhole population could crash if they catch distemper or rabies.
There are only about 2,500 dholes left in the wild, which is less than how many tigers are left in the wild! Their numbers continue to decline from habitat being destroyed to make room for farming, and even though dholes rarely take domestic livestock in some countries dholes are killed by people who blame them. In India, which has the largest population of dholes in the world, the tiger conservation program Project Tiger created several reserves for the Bengal tiger which also helps protect the dhole.
⦁ Dholes have very powerful jaws, but lack the long canine teeth of other carnivores
⦁ Dholes don’t howl, and instead communicate with a whistle and other sounds not found in any other canines
⦁ While the average is 2-15 adults, packs as large as 30 have been documented
⦁ Dholes sometime harass much larger predators to steal their prey, and are rumored to be able to tree a tiger
⦁ Only 5 facilities in North America have dholes: San Diego Zoo Safari Park, The Wilds, Minnesota Zoo, Zoo Miami, and Bronx Zoo