What do you find most interesting about working with dhole?
The dhole is a medium-sized, social canid. The species is listed as endangered by the IUCN-World Conservation Union, and currently inhabits a fragmented range in southern China, India, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Indonesia. The main threats to this species include habitat fragmentation, hunting, prey depletion, competition with other carnivores, and diseases transmitted by feral/domestic dogs. In many range countries, local people regard the dhole as a pest, and consequently these animals are commonly trapped, shot, or poisoned. Because of the public’s negative attitude, and because it is perceived as less charismatic than other local carnivores, especially the tiger, the dhole has received little scientific and conservation attention. In fact, this species is considered one of the least studied endangered canids on earth.
How does citizen science support your research?
Citizen science is crucial to our research. When groups of citizen scientists joint us in the field, the knowledge and skills they bring with them is inspiring to the researchers in the field. Citizen scientists will gain a better understanding of the dhole and other large carnivore in the area and will help to conserve the species and related creatures by adding to the knowledge base of these animals, allowing us to develop conservation and management plans.
What is one of your favorite moments in the field?
I cannot begin to fully express my feelings when I am in the forest. Not only is the forest beautiful, but it also creates in me this sense of urgency – I want to protect and maintain the plentiful forests to pass on to our next generation. Other moments I enjoy come when I see tracks and signs of dholes and other large carnivores, such as tigers and leopards, and many of the prey species during walks and drives in the forest. I am immersed in another world, surrounded by the sound of forest insects and other animals, especially during the night. These are only a few of my favorite moments in the field. My 30 years as a forester and wildlife ecologist have shown me how lucky I am to work and study in the forest and study both predators and their prey.