Lone Indian wild dog struggles to survive

The lone wild dog at Tipeshwar Wildlife Sanctuary in Maharashtra.

The lone wild dog at Tipeshwar Wildlife Sanctuary in Maharashtra.

In a rare phenomenon of its kind, a solitary dhole or Indian wild dog ( Cuon alpinus ), has made the Tipeshwar Wildife Sanctuary in Yavatmal district of Maharashtra, about 30 km from here, its home for the last two years.

This predator, an endangered species as per the International Union for Conservation of Nature, has caught the attention of wildlife enthusiasts who are debating its chances of survival on its own besides the relevance of dholes to the Tipeshwar ecosystem.

Weakling in the pack

The loner wild dog seems to have been expelled from its pack which itself quit the sanctuary area as the population of tigers in it increased over the last few years, according to wildlife enthusiasts. Though the movement of the dhole is not being monitored, wildlife aficionados are concerned about the perceptible imbalance in the ecosystem within the sanctuary. The reason? The sanctuary, located on the inter State border with Maharashtra will soon have its tigers migrating to Kawal Tiger Reserve in erstwhile undivided Adilabad district. The tigers can even migrate to Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve in Chandrapur district of Maharashtra but the Telangana border is closer increasing the probability of their sauntering into it.

“Tipeshwar sanctuary with its excellent tiger population, about 12 to 14, also needs the presence of wild dogs to fill the niche or gap left by tigers or leopards,” explained Sanjeev Siva, Hyderabad-based wildlife enthusiast and photographer from the conservation group CLAW (Conservation Lenses and Wildlife) as he highlighted the importance of predators in an ecosystem. “While tigers rule over 70% of the 143 sq. km of the spread of Tipeshwar, predators like dholes are needed in the remaining area to regulate growth of smaller herbivore prey population,” he said about the dynamics in an ecosystem.

Like CLAW, the Hyderabad-based NGO Vata Foundation too is involved in conservation efforts at Tipeshwar. Its trustee, P. Uday Krishna and Siva were of the opinion that introduction of a female or two, or males for that matter from other packs, would be a difficult task and were doubtful of its success.

Habitat improvement

Honorary wildlife warden of Yavatmal district Ramzan Virani, a Tipeshwar expert, ruled out introduction of female or male dholes as company to the solitary animal in question and thereby to raise a pack.

“Dholes are present on the fringes which is indicative that the animals have not found the habitat inside the sanctuary conducive for their survival. They have apparently failed in competition with other predators, and improvement of habitat is perhaps the best solution to give them a chance for a come back on their own,” Mr. Virani said.

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Printable version | Aug 11, 2022 7:33:38 am |