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 populations 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.
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 range-wide 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 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.
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.