November 28, 2012

FINDING THE DHOLE


IN SEARCH OF THE ELUSIVE CANINES
Credit: Rohit Verma
Continuing with my fascination of the Asian wild dog, I was curious to find out the places in India where they are still found; the forests that reverberate, even today, with whistles as packs relentlessly chase their prey; the woodlands against the backdrop of which these denizens spend their lives and where tiny puppies grow under loving care of the clan members to become some of the most feared predators on the continent. As I have pointed out in my last post, I believe that we Indians need to pioneer the conservation of these dogs, like we have done in the case of the stripped feline. For this to happen, there is an immediate need to identify the regions they still inhabit and tackle the issues that threaten their survival there. It is my firm belief that such an exercise is extremely crucial and the information collected would be basis on which future steps to save them can be taken. The content available on the internet, in this regards, was pretty shoddy, in the sense that, there was no single website where all the existing dhole habitats across the country were mentioned properly. As such, I decided to spend some time going through the available material so as to come up with a list of such protection sites. Considering that I have neither seen these creatures in the wild nor been to any of the national parks or wildlife sanctuaries mentioned below, I have completely relied on the data present in the cyber space. The result of this 'study' is given below. In case you feel that I have missed out anything or the content is inaccurate or it needs to be updated, please feel free to write to me or leave a comment.

It is believed that since they were quite common in the Deccan region in earlier times, the word 'dhole' may have its roots in the Kannada word for this creature - 'tola'. While its numbers have declined here, like in the rest of its former range, southern India still continues to be the stronghold of the species. The Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve encompassing several protected areas in the 
Credit: Sudhir Shukla
states of Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu is probably, the best place on earth to spot them. In fact, the critically acclaimed documentaries - 'The Pack' and 'Wild Dog Diaries', shot by the duo of Kruparkar and Senani which provide deep insights into their lives, were filmed here. The national parks of Bandipur and Nagarhole, near Mysore are magnets for Asian wild dog enthusiasts. Resorts along the Kabini river that flows through these tiger reserves are very popular with the tourists and these canids are high on their agenda while on their trips. The Mudumalai Tiger Reserve and the Mukurthi National Park in neighboring Tamil Nadu as well as the Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary and the Silent Valley National Park in Kerala are the other places where they are common. There are several reasons for their relative abundance in this region. Firstly, with the Nilgiris being a protected site, the animals that are found here are safe from most kinds of persecution they face elsewhere. Besides, the lush green jungles and abundance of prey are the other factors that have helped their cause. However, the man-animal conflict, competition from the big cats for prey and diseases like rabies, canine distemper etc contacted from feral dogs are the major threats to their survival here.

The Munnar Forest Division in Kerala administered by the State Forest Department - an amalgamation of many wildlife parks, sanctuaries and reserve forests around the famous hill station, has a significant dhole population too. Besides, the national parks of Pampadum Shola and Eravikulam in this part of the state, they are also seen in the Periyar Tiger Reserve. The Chimmony 
Credit: K P Krishnan
Wildlife Sanctuary in Thrissur district is also known to be a home to these canines. In Karnataka again, like in most places throughout the country, these hounds seem to be fairly abundant in the sites designated for the protection of their bete noire (the Tiger) like the Anshi Dandeli National Park in the district of North Kanara, the Kudremukha National Park and the Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary in Chikmaglur. Other protected areas in the state that still boast of their presence include Pushpagiri and Bramhagiri (Kodagu), Bhimgad (Belgaum) and Biligiriranga Hills or BR Hills (Chamarajanagara). In Tamil Nadu, they are found in the renowned Kalakkad-Mudanthurai Tiger Reserve in Tirunelveli  district and the Indira Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary and National Park (IGWLS&NP) in Coimbatore & Tirupur. Surprisingly, among all the southern states, very little is known about the wild dogs in Andhra Pradesh. They are said to be common in the Sri Venkateshwara National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary close to the holy town of Tirupati and the Nagarjunasagar-Srisailam Tiger Reserve in central Andhra. Their presence in this state has also been recorded in the Etunagaram Wildlife Sanctuary and the Pocharam Wildlife Sanctuary in the districts of Warangal and Medak respectively.

Another popular dhole habitat in the country is the Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve in Chandrapur district in eastern Maharashtra. Reports from there suggest that these animals are doing very well. Other places in the state where one can still find them are the Gugamal National Park in Amaravati, and the wildlife sanctuaries of Bor in Wardha and Nagzira in Bhandara. The
Credit: Ramki Sreenivasan / Conservation India
2010 census of wild animals in the small state of Goa has revealed that several dholes exist in the forests here, especially in the
Mahadei Sanctuary. This has brought cheers to many as in the previous count carried out in the year 2006, no evidence to support the presence of these mammals was ever found. Madhya Pradesh is known for its faunal diversity and these canines are known to occur in several areas spread across the state. These include the Kanha National Park in Mandla  & Balaghat, the Satpura National Park in Hoshangabad which is a constituent of the Panchmari Biosphere Reserve, the Pench National Park in Chhindwara & Seoni, the Ratapani Tiger Reserve in Raisen, the Gandhi Sagar Sanctuary in Mandsaur & Nimach and the Noradehi Sanctuary which is spread over the districts of  Sagar, Damoh, Narsinghpur & Raisen. In neighboring Chhattisgarh too, they are seen in several protected areas - the Indravati National Park in Dantewada, the Ghasi Das National Park in Surguja & Koriya, the Achanakmar Wildlife Sanctuary in Bilaspur, the wildlife sanctuaries of Udanti and Gomarda in Raipur, the Sitanadi Wildlife Sanctuary in Dhamtari, the Barnawapara Wildlife Sanctuary in Mahasamund and the Tamor Pingla Wildlife Sanctuary in Surajpur.

In the east, the once thriving dhole population has been decimated leading to its extinction in most places. However, there are still a few pockets where they are still found. News reports from Dalma Wildlife Sanctuary near Jamshedpur indicate that they have made a comeback here after a gap of several decades. Besides, they are also occasionally seen in the Palamau Tiger Reserve (Palamu) and the Topchanchi Wildlife Sanctuary (Dhanbad) in Jharkhand, the Valmiki Tiger Reserve (West Champaran) in 
Credit: Sanket Reddy
Bihar and the Chandanka Elephant Sanctuary (Bhubaneshwar) and the  Similipal Tiger Reserve (Mayurbhanj) in Orissa. The decline in the number of tigers in the north eastern part of India has witnessed the revival of theses canids in some areas here. In West Bengal, they are known to exist in protected areas in the Jalpaiguri district like the Buxa Tiger Reserve, the Jaldpara National Park and the Gorumara National Park. In Assam, they are seen in the Manas National Park spread over the districts of Kokrajhar, Chirang, Baksia, Udalgiri & Darrang and the Nameri National Park in Sonitpur. Other areas where they are sighted include the Barsey Rhododendron Sanctuary (West Sikkim) and the Khangchendzonga National Park (North Sikkim) in Sikkim; the Pakkae Tiger Reserve (East Kameng) and the Namdapha National Park (Changlang) in Arunachal Pradesh; the Gumati Wildlife Sanctuary and Trishna Wildlife Sanctuary in South Tripura; the Intanki Wildlife Sanctuary and Fakim Wildlife Sanctuary in Nagaland; the Shiroi Community Forest and Anko Hills (Ukrul), the Bunning Wildlife Sanctuary (Tamenglong) and the Jiri Marku Sanctuary (Imphal East & Tamenglong) in Manipur and finally the Garo hills in Meghalaya. The man-animal conflict and the depletion of precious habitat are the biggest threat to them here.


For more on the dholes
(1) The Whistling Hunters - The Asian Wild Dog or Dhole (Link)
(2) Project Dhole - The Need of the Hour (Link)



SOURCES

(1) Wikipedia - (Link)

(2) Biodiversity - Mohan Pai's articles (Link)

(3) Governance Now - Happy Find: Wildlife Census reports more leopards, wild dogs in Goa (Link)

(4) Prudent Networks - Wildlife Tourism of Chhattisgarh (Link)

(5) The Telegraph - Tigers vanish, dholes take charge (Link)

(6) Indya Tour - Garumara National Park (Link)

(7) Livestock Production Management - Major wildlife sanctuaries and reserves of Orissa (Link)

(8) Maps of India - Topchanchi Wildlife Sanctuary (Link)

(9) World Wildlife Adventures - Wildlife Parks in Assam (Link)

(10) The Aaranyak Blog - A Pack of six! (Link)

(11) World Wildlife Adventures - Wildlife Parks in Sikkim (Link)

(12) Greener Pastures - About Arunachal Pradesh (Link)

(13) Tourism - Pakkae Tiger Reserve (Link

(14) Birds of India - Nagaland Trip (Link)

(15) Tripura Tourism Development Corporation - Gomati Wildlife Sanctuary (Link)

(16) Tripura Forest Department - Perspective Plan for Development of Forestry Sector (2007-08 to 2012-13) (Link)

(17) Important Bird Areas in India - Manipur (Link)

IMAGES


(1) Credit: Rohit Verma (Link)
Original: Rohit Verma - 'Dhole Pair 3' by Rohit Verma

(2) Credit: Sudhir Shukla (Link)

Original: India Nature Watch - 'Pack of Dholes - Out Hunting' by Sudhir Shukla

(3) Credit: K P Krishnan (Link)

Original: India Nature Watch - 'Dhole - Indian Wild Dog' by K P Krishna

(4) Credit: Ramki Sreenivasan / Conservation India (Link)

Original: Wild Ventures - 'Dhole or Indian Wild Dog' by Ramki Sreenivasan

(5) Credit: Sanket Reddy (Link)

Original: India Nature Watch - 'Just Another Dhole Image - Kabini' by Sanket Reddy