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iWild: For more see iWild.org


Dhole The Asian Wild Dog, also known as the Dhole or Red Dog, is today’s Endangered All-Star, its population reduced to perhaps 2,500. Like the African wild dog, the dhole is a spectacularly gifted hunter, capable of leaping high in the air to get a whiff of nearby prey. A famous late-addition to Kipling’s Jungle Book, the dhole hunts cooperatively, driving fawns or spotted deer into a line of waiting pack members or even into the water; the dhole is reportedly a capable swimmer. The species was once an important predator across Asia, common throughout India, China, Indonesia, southeast Asia, and the Russian far east. Today, persecuted as vermin by villagers and farmers, poisoned in mass campaigns in Bhutan, the dhole survives only in greatly diminished and fragmented populations, listed as Endangered on the IUCN’s Red List. Persecution and widespread habitat loss represent major threats: There are reports from India of farmers clubbing pups to death at the den. But the dhole also faces the loss of most of its prey base. Coexisting with tiger, the dhole generally targets smaller prey, from hares to medium-sized deer, but many countries across the species’ former range have lost the full suite of ungulate species; those deer that remain may be present in greatly reduced numbers. In India, the Project Tiger reserves have proven to be safe havens for dhole as well, but even those reserves have lately fallen on hard times as the government cut funding for ranger programs and poaching escalated. Despite these growing threats and the sharply dwindling number of these fascinating social dogs, the dhole has never received the kind of concentrated conservation attention it clearly needs. Even WWF, normally a trove of information on most endangered species, offers little concrete information about the dhole, but ARKive provides valuable photos, videos, and information. According to one report, available at the Dhole Home Page, there is some hope that larger protected area networks being planned for Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam may provide more protection.
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