Albinism in wild dog documented at Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary

January 25, 2023 07:49 pm | Updated January 26, 2023 10:47 am IST - MYSURU

An albinistic dhole photo-documented at Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary.

An albinistic dhole photo-documented at Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary. | Photo Credit: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

In what could be termed as a first for dholes (wild dogs), a partial albino dhole (Cuon alpinus) has been photo-documented in Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary. This is not only the first-ever record of albinism in dholes from India but also from its entire distribution range in 11 countries.

The photographic record of the partial albino dhole was documented in the Sangama range of Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary by Sanjay Gubbi and his team of Nature Conservation Foundation and Holématthi Nature Foundation. The current camera-trapping exercise was conducted as part of the long-term population monitoring of leopards.

“It is also to be noted that the frontline staff of Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary have noticed this individual before it was camera-trapped,” said Mr. Gubbi.

With reference to the specific individual, Mr. Gubbi said the partial albino dhole was part of a pack of six other dholes and to date, it had been recorded four times in the camera traps.

However, there were also remote chances that this individual could be an inter-breed between a domestic dog and dholes. This could only be ascertained if DNA testing of the individual was carried out, Mr. Gubbi added.

Earlier in T.N.

Though albino dhole had never been recorded in the wild, a melanistic dhole had been recorded in Gaddesal, Coimbatore Forest Division in Tamil Nadu by naturalist-hunter and coffee planter R.C. Morris, said Mr. Gubbi.  The same team had in 2014 documented the first-ever record of honey badger for Karnataka from the same area in Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary.

Dholes or the Indian wild dog are an endangered species found in forests and scrubland in 11 Asian countries. Apart from India, dholes are currently found in Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, and Indonesia among others.

Depletion of wild prey

Mr. Gubbi said dholes were threatened largely owing to the depletion of wild prey, habitat loss, disease, and free-ranging domestic dogs. As per the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), dholes are already extinct from Afghanistan, the Republic of Korea, Mongolia, and other countries.

In India, dholes were protected under Schedule II of the Wildlife Protection Act 1972. But the area was now threatened by the possible construction of the Mekedatu dam, he added.

Mr. Gubbi said the team’s research focused on human-dominated areas, including agricultural fields and woods not protected under conservation laws and had led to the discovery of many interesting aspects of wildlife and the extent of the range of Indian wolf, mongoose, chinkara etc. It also led to the establishment of the first-ever chinkara wildlife sanctuary at Bukkapatana in Tumakuru district helping wildlife conservation and management, Mr. Gubbi added.

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