Also known as the Asiatic wild dog, the dhole is a species of wild dog found in eastern Asia from India to China and as far south as Java. Adults reach up to 45 inches in length. Females can weigh up to 35 lb and males can weigh up to 44 lb. Their coats vary in color and can range from a deep cinnamon to a grayish brown and even a creamy-yellow shade. There are also shades of white appearing on the throat, legs, and face. Their ears are round and large and also filled with white hair. Their tails are usually tipped with black and they usually have a darker shade on the back. The dhole is also called the whistling hunter, because it has an extraordinary vocal call similar to the sound of whistling. And the whistles are said to be so distinct that they can be used to identify individuals.
Dholes prefer dense mountain and alpine forests or scrub jungles as their habitat. Open forests next to grassy meadows must be nearby for hunting their prey. Dholes prey on deer, wild sheep, rodents and rabbits, and they prefer to hunt in packs. They are known to kill very violently and defend their prey even against tigers and bears. Mating season is generally from November thru April. Females give birth to litter sizes of up to 12 after a gestation period of 60 to 63 days. Dholes are very social, and all members of the pack help with raising and protecting the cubs.
It is estimated that only 2500 dholes are left in the wild. Threats to the dhole species include habitat destruction and loss of its main prey (deer) due to excessive hunting. The dhole is also persecuted and thought of as a menace to humans and their livestock, resulting in death by trapping or being shot or poisoned. Hunting of the species is currently prohibited except in self-defense. Dholes are also found and protected in national parks and wildlife sanctuaries throughout India and Nepal.
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