TitleA strategic road map for conserving the Endangered dhole Cuon alpinus in India
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2020
AuthorsSrivathsa A, Sharma S, Singh P, Punjabi GA, Oli MK
Date Published07/2020

1. Large carnivores face high extinction risks, often exacerbated by the absence of adequate information on their ecological requirements, and the high economic and socio-political commitments that their conservation warrants. Country-scale conservation plans can serve as effective frameworks to prioritise areas, actions, and conservation investments.

2. We explore conservation tenets of retention, recovery, and restoration for the Endangered dholeCuon alpinusin India - a global stronghold for the species. Specifically, we: 1) examine the current status of dholes in India's states using a recent distribution assessment; 2) identify areas for directing management interventions - zones to be targeted for population recovery and for habitat recovery; 3) identify potential areas for range expansion; 4) use eco-socio-political criteria to determine state-wise conservation priority scores and likelihood of conservation action; and 5) conduct an exhaustive review of all published literature on dholes.

3. Dholes occupy similar to 49% of potential habitats in 685 of mainland India's 2342 sub-districts. We identified 143 sub-districts with potential for dhole population recovery, 145 for habitat recovery, and 404 for range expansion. Of the 34 mainland states/union territories, 17 were identified as high priority for dhole conservation. Of these, nine are adequately equipped to implement management actions to conserve dholes, while eight need to improve capacity towards increasing likelihood of conservation success.

4. Literature on dholes (from 1874 to 2019;n=237) was dominated by natural history notes, followed by distribution records and studies of population ecology. A majority of the reviewed studies were from India (55% of 215 country-specific papers). The number of studies showed an exponential increase over time: 43% were published in the last decade.

5. Our review of published literature revealed significant knowledge gaps in terms of quantitative ecological assessments across all dhole range-countries. Given this context, our results provide a comprehensive, multi-dimensional, and administratively feasible road map for dhole conservation in India, with potential applicability in other dhole range-countries and also for other threatened species.