The dhole or dole, also known as the red dog or Asiatic wild dog is a candid, native to South, Central, and Southeast Asia. Dholes are about the size of a German shepherd but look like a long-legged fox. They are highly elusive and skilled jumpers, found in jungles and tropical rainforest.
Scientific Name: Cuon Alpinus
When it comes to appearance, dholes look like dogs. They are usually described as the combination of characteristics of a grey wolf and red fox. Their long backbone and slender limbs make them look cat-like. Compared to other canid species, dholes have well developed sagittal crest and masseter muscles.
The species feature six to seven lower molars. Adult females weigh 10 – 17kgs and male dholes weigh 15 – 21kg. They stand 17 – 22 inches at the shoulder and measures 3.1 ft in body length. The texture of their body fur is reddish with whitish lower parts.
Dholes inhabit the mountainous area. They are mostly found in alpine meadows and high mountain steppes, high above the sea level. Dholes prefer forested areas in alpine zones and also in plain areas.
Earlier, dholes were found throughout eastern and south-eastern Asia, from the Russian far east to Sumatra. But today their population has drastically reduced. Now they are mostly found in parts of India, Indonesia, China, and Myanmar.
When it comes to food habits, dholes prey on hoofed mammals like deer, wild pigs, wild goats, and buffalo. In Southeast Asia, dholes feed on gaur, deer, and banteng. They also love eating berries, lizards, bugs, and rabbits. These species are good hunting.
Check with their behavioural traits, mentioned below;
Their mating season begins from mid-October and continues till January. The gestation period lasts for 60 – 63 days. Female dholes produce four to six pups and the pups are suckled for at least 58 days. During this period, the pack feeds the mother. The pups remain at the den site for 70 -80 days. After completing six months, the pups accompany the adults on a hunt.
They have a life span of nearly 10 years.
Tigers and leopards are known for being the natural predators of the dhole. They are the biggest threat to their population.
Dholes are vulnerable to several diseases. Infectious pathogens like Toxocara Canis are present in their faeces.
Their population is reducing drastically over the years because of loss of habitat and fragmentation. In India, dhole is protected as per Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. This Asiatic wild dog is endangered, as declared by IUCN. Reportedly, a declining population of 2,500 dholes is left in the world.
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