Asiatic wild dog: Bangladesh’s forgotten wildlife


Today, dholes are present in the Indian subcontinent (except Pakistan), Indochina, peninsular Malaysia, the Greater Sunda, and Southern China. And they still roam the eastern forests of Bangladesh. Yes, you read it right!

13 October, 2021, 11:20 am

Last modified: 13 October, 2021, 01:37 pm

Mock charges and plays sharpen dhole to hunt/Prakash Ramakrishnan

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Mock charges and plays sharpen dhole to hunt/Prakash Ramakrishnan

Charisma, pride, ferocity, and gallantry – in Asia, the wording, in general, takes us to tigers, lions, wolves, bears, or leopards. There is, however, another top gun – we call it the Asiatic wild dog or ‘dhole’. 

Asiatic wild dog or dhole is globally vulnerable. Illustration: Tania Zakir

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Asiatic wild dog or dhole is globally vulnerable. Illustration: Tania Zakir

Asiatic wild dog or dhole is globally vulnerable. Illustration: Tania Zakir

Across the Asian heartlands

Dholes are wide-ranging; once spread from the far East to as far as the Caspian region, this species’ current stronghold are South and Southeast Asia’s forests. Dholes are by-born adaptive and have reportedly been seen in less-protected reserve forests, agroforests, and plantations. 

Today, dholes are present in the Indian subcontinent (except Pakistan), Indochina, peninsular Malaysia, the Greater Sunda, and Southern China. Its presence is anticipated in Siberia and North Korea.

Dholes still roam the eastern forests of Bangladesh. Yes, you read it right!

Photo: Collected

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Photo: Collected
Photo: Collected

Social all along

Being a canid, sociality is present in dholes; grouping of dholes is called a clan led by a male and a female. While a wolf pack follows strict rules against the outsides, a dhole clan is more receptive with less-stiff pecking order.

A clan can be very big; can consist of even 40 individuals. The formation is often broken down to smaller hunting parties.

Keep an ear to whistles

To live in forest thickets and hunt through it, communication between dholes becomes complex. Along with common wagging and face-licking gestures, they are known to whistle feignedly – a technique developed for messaging amid thick grass and undergrowth.

Beware of the whistle while trekking through an Asian jungle. You may come across a clan! 

Eating their quarry alive

Dholes hunt in broad daylight. There is a dreary reputation of dholes – they mostly eat their prey alive. It might sound shocking, however, this is just another evolutionary response. With a light body, group-hunting tendency, and living in an arena with tigers and leopards, dholes tend to consume as soon as they hold a grip on potential food.

Dhole feeding on samber deer in Thailand. Photo: Collected

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Dhole feeding on samber deer in Thailand. Photo: Collected
Dhole feeding on samber deer in Thailand. Photo: Collected

Dholes are fearless in defending ground. A tiger may kill a dhole with a single swat, yet, a clan is a considerable threat. Instances of mobbing for lengthy periods are common. Death of young, inexperienced tigers is also attributed.

The best strategy for a tiger against dholes is not in escaping, but rather in holding ground. Start a retreat, dholes will sense the fear and tend to chase down. 

In the 21st century, the species is in dire state. Dholes’ habitat is fragmented. Being diurnal, it comes more in contact with humans though killing one is never known. Their natural prey number is dwindling and they are killed in retaliation for livestock depredation. At present, only 2,000 to 2,500 dholes are left in the wild. And, the number is on the decrease.

With all apropos iconic quality, they, however, are lagging far behind when it comes to conservation. In Bangladesh, there is no concerted study on the species. Say, compared to the much-discussed pantherine cats, dholes have many titles attached with the prefix ‘less’ – less known, less studied, and less loved.

Be that as it may, one thing is for sure – they are disappearing fast.





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