Very little is known about dholes, also known as Asiatic wild dogs or red dogs—from their population size to their preferred prey. In Thailand, Earthwatch teams are investigating this elusive and often misunderstood predator.
Dholes are considered to be one of the least studied and yet most endangered canids on Earth. They are elusive in nature and are typically only seen while hunting. These wild dogs are communal pack hunters and communicate with one another through high-pitched whistle-like calls in the dense forests, which has earned them the name ‘whistling hunters.’
Dholes used to inhabit South and East Asia, parts of southern Russia, and as far west as Kazakhstan and Pakistan. However, their habitats have dwindled, and now the species can only be found in a handful of countries, with little known as to where or how many individuals populate these areas. Despite the limited information about this species, the wild dogs have earned an unfortunate reputation as an overabundant pest. Because of this negative attitude, dholes are commonly trapped, shot, and poisoned.
In Thailand, dholes have faced persecution when their hunting forays take them beyond the boundaries of protected areas. Today, they can be found in fragmented populations in protected areas like the Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary and Khao Yai National Park, but little research has been conducted that focuses specifically on how this species is faring. How much room do dholes need to live and hunt? How many individuals are there? How do they interact with other large apex predators, such as tigers, and how do they fare when they are the “top dog” (in the absence of tigers)?
Join scientists and help gather data about the population size and diversity of the species, analyze dhole habitat, and evaluate its prey species and the potential overlap with other large carnivore diets, such as tigers and leopards. The results from this project will help provide wildlife management and lawmakers with the information needed to create conservation and restoration policies for dholes and their prey.