Listed under the Endangered category of the IUCN Red List, the dhole is a wild canid found in the forests of central, south, and southeast Asia. Dholes have historically been overlooked, with very few studies that document their ecology and conservation requirements. Dhole population face threats primarily from human disturbances and habitat loss. Other threats include prey base reduction and retaliatory killings in some parts of North East India and Southeast Asia.

A pack of dholes frolic near a water body

Under the Dhole Project, WCS-India has conducted conservation research studies across multiple scales using a combination of field-based, laboratory-based and other innovative approaches. At a global scale, our scientists conducted a wide-range analysis to understand links between dhole diet patterns, livestock predation/consumption and human–dhole interactions. At the countrywide scale, we have created a comprehensive and strategic roadmap for dhole conservation in India, combining ecological, social, biogeographic and political attributes. We have also conducted an exhaustive review of all dhole literature from the past 145 years to identify key gaps in knowledge and propose future directions for conservation research. WCS–India's analysis of dhole distribution from 2007 to 2015 showed that dhole-occupied areas had reduced from 62% to 54% in Karnataka’s Western Ghats. We are currently involved in developing state-of-the-art methods to identify individual dholes from their scats to estimate their populations.

WCS-India researchers on field in dhole ranges

The project continues to generate information that links dhole individuals, packs, populations and meta-populations through linking ecological research, local capacity-building, citizen science and conservation outreach. The ultimate goal is to develop recommendations for governments, wildlife managers and conservationists to safeguard dhole populations across ~300,000 sq. km of their geographic range.


Program Partners


  • Srivathsa, A., Banerjee, A., Banerjee, S., Chawla, M.M., Das, A., Ganguly, D., Rodrigues, R.G., Adhya, T., Bhatia, S., Kshettry, A., Majgaonkar, I., Punjabi, G.A., Puri, M., Singh, P., Surve, N. (2022) Chasms in charismatic species research: Seventy years of carnivore science and its implications for conservation and policy in India. Biological Conservation. doi: 10.1016/j.biocon.2022.10969
  • Punjabi G.A., Havmøller, L.W., Havmøller, R.W., Ngoprasert, D., Srivathsa, A. (2022) Methodological approaches for estimating populations of the endangered dhole Cuon alpinus. PeerJ, 10:e12905.
  • Rodrigues, R.G.Srivathsa, A., Vasudev, V. (2021) Dog in the matrix: Envisioning countrywide connectivity conservation for an endangered carnivore. Journal of Applied Ecology. doi: https://doi.org/10.1111/1365-2664.14048
  • Srivathsa, A., Rodrigues, R.G., Toh, K.B., Taylor, R.W., Zachariah, A., Oli, M.K., Ramakrishnan, U. (2021) The truth about scats and dogs: Next-generation sequencing and spatial capture–recapture models offer opportunities for conservation monitoring of an endangered social canid. Biological Conservation, 256, 109028. doi: 10.1016/j.biocon.2021.109028.
  • Srivathsa, A., Sharma, S., Singh, P., Punjabi, G.A., Oli, M.K. (2020). A strategic road map for conserving the endangered dhole Cuon alpinus in India. Mammal Review. doi: 10.1111/mam.12209
  • Srivathsa, A., Majgaonkar, I., Sharma, S., Punjabi, G.A., Singh, P., Chawla, M.M., Banerjee, A. (2020) Opportunities for prioritizing and expanding conservation enterprise in India using a guild of carnivores as flagships. Environmental Research Letters, 15: 064009. doi: 10.1088/1748-9326/ab7e50
  • Srivathsa, A., Sharma, S., Oli, M.K (2020) Every dog has its prey: Range-wide assessment of links between diet patterns, livestock depredation, and human interactions for an endangered carnivore. Science of the Total Environment, 714: 136798. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.136798
  • Singh, P., Srivathsa, A., Macdonald, D.W. (2019) Conservation status of the dhole Cuon alpinus in north-east India, with a focus on Dampa Tiger Reserve, Mizoram. Oryx, 1–5. doi: 10.1017/S0030605319000255
  • Srivathsa, A., Puri, M., Karanth, K.K., Patel, I., Kumar, N.S. (2019) Examining human–carnivore interactions using a socio-ecological framework: Sympatric wild canids in India as a case study. Royal Society Open Science, 6: 182008
  • Srivathsa, A., Karanth, K.U., Kumar, N.S., Oli, M.K. (2019) Insights from distribution dynamics inform strategies to conserve a dhole Cuon alpinusmetapopulation in India. Scientific Reports, 9(3081): 1–12



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Illustrations: Aditi Rajan, Arjun Srivathsa






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