Journal of Threatened Taxa | www.threatenedtaxa.org | 26 July 2020 | 12(10): 16373–16376

 

 

ISSN 0974-7907 (Online) | ISSN 0974-7893 (Print) 

doi: https://doi.org/10.11609/jott.5959.12.10.16373-16376

#5959 | Received 07 April 2020 | Final received 06 June 2020 | Finally accepted 30 June 2020

 

 

 

First photographic record of the Dhole Cuon alpinus (Mammalia: Carnivora: Canidae) from the Sirumalai Hills in Tamil Nadu, India

 

B.M. Krishnakumar 1  & M. Eric Ramanujam 2

 

1 PG and Research Department of Zoology and Wildlife Biology, A.V.C. College (Autonomous), Mannampandal, Mayiladuthurai,

Tamil Nadu 609305, India.

2 Principal Investigator (Faunistics), Pitchandikulam Bioresource Centre / Pitchandikulam Forest Consultants, Auroville,

Tamil Nadu 605101, India.

1 Krishnakumarnympha@gmail.com (corresponding author), 2 ericramanujamowl@yahoo.com

 

 

Editor: Honnavalli N. Kumara, SACON, Coimbatore, India.          Date of publication: 26 July 2020 (online & print)

 

Citation: Krishnakumar, B.M. & M.E. Ramanujam (2020). First photographic record of the Dhole Cuon alpinus (Mammalia: Carnivora: Canidae) from the Sirumalai Hills in Tamil Nadu, India. Journal of Threatened Taxa 12(10): 16373–16376. https://doi.org/10.11609/jott.5959.12.10.16373-16376

 

Copyright: © Krishnakumar & Ramanujam 2020. Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.  JoTT allows unrestricted use, reproduction, and distribution of this article in any medium by providing adequate credit to the author(s) and the source of publication.

 

Funding: Khandige Herbs and Plantation (P) Ltd.

 

Competing interests: The authors declare no competing interests.

 

Acknowledgements: We wish to thank Mr. Vinod Bhat of Khandige Herbs and Plantations (P) Ltd. as well as Mr. Ramesh and field assistant/s for all the support and hospitality during our stints in Sirumalai.

 

 

The Asiatic Wild Dog or Dhole has a wide global range covering central, southern and southeastern Asia (Kamler et al. 2015).  It has been recorded over most of the Indian subcontinent except for the deserts of western India and Eastern Ghats of Tamil Nadu.  Though it has been observed in the Western Ghats of Karnataka (Johnsingh 1983; Karanth & Sunquist 1995; Kumara et al. 2012), Kerala (Nair et al. 1985; Rice 1986; Jayson & Ramachandran 1996; Jayson 1998; Vishnu 2012; Narasimen et al. 2013; Shahid & Jamal 2016;), Tamil Nadu (Johnsingh 2001; Kumaraguru et al. 2011; Naresh 2012; Ramesh et al. 2012; Srinivas et al. 2013; Varsha 2018), and both Eastern Ghats of Andhra Pradesh (Behera & Borah 2010; Jhala et al. 2015) and Telangana (Sudhakar Reddy et al. 2019) (Figure 1), it has not been reported from Eastern Ghats of Tamil Nadu.  In fact, extant numbers of individuals vary from report to report.  The Canid Specialist Group (www.wildcanids.net) report that 2,500 mature individuals remain in the wild on the global scale and the declining trend is expected to continue.  Kamler et al. (2015) estimate a total population of 4,500–10,500 animals of which 949–2,215 are mature individuals and most, if not all current subpopulations of Dholes are relatively small and isolated, and often exhibit extreme fluctuation in numbers.

Among the sub-populations of Dhole in southern Asia, Johnsingh (1985) reported that it is frequently seen in many of the protected areas south of the Ganga River, with the central Indian highland forests having the largest population of Dhole, followed by the Western Ghats of southern India.  In Western Ghats, Bandipur National Park was presumed to have had the largest subpopulations of Dhole four decades back, a total population of 207–304 individuals and estimated 44–64 mature individuals (20–29 alpha males and 20–29 alpha females with 4–6 sub-dominant breeders (Johnsingh 1982).  Dhole density in southern India over the last four decades vary between 14–100 /km2; e.g., 31/100 km2 (Venkataraman et. al. 1995) to 43/100 km2 at Mudumalai (Ramesh 2010), 35–90/100 km2 at Bandipur (Johnsingh 1983), and 14/100 km2 at Nagarhole (Karanth 1993).  Nevertheless, any new sight records from the lesser explored sites, contribute in understanding their occurrence and possible further exploration of its population status.  We report one such sight record from Sirumalai Hills in Tamil Nadu.

The Sirumalai Hills (10.1940N & 77.9960E) are a low range of hills situated 25km from Dindigul and 96.8km from Kodaikanal in Tamil Nadu and has an altitude of 1,600m.  Khandige Estate or Namaste Estate is spread over 4.04km2 in the Sirumalai Hills with two perennial streams flowing through it before reaching the plains.  The estate is surrounded by reserve forest on three sides without any fences.  Except for approximately 0.20 km2 of cultivated area (Chayote Sechium edule, Lemon Citrus limon, and Banana Musa sp.), the rest is almost forest.

We, hereby, provide photographic evidence of the Dhole Cuon alpinus from Khandige Estate in Sirumalai (photographs were taken on 09 December 2017 & 05 January 2019; Image 1).  Since the establishment of the estate, plantation workers and staff have been sighting these canids on and off and they are under the impression that not more than four individuals exist.  The photographs were taken at the open areas of the Khandige Estate. The nearest area to the Sirumalai Hills with Dholes is Upper Palani plateau which lies c. 68km away from Sirumalai’s west side.  Davidar (1975) had recorded six Dholes feeding on Sambar Rusa unicolor and Indian Muntjac Muntiacus muntjac from upper Palani plateau, while Varsha (2018) has reported the presence of Dhole from Kodaikanal Wildlife Sanctuary.

Sirumalai Hills have been considered a broken chain of Palani Hills, separated from the latter by anthropogenically modified plains (Vijayakumar et al. 2002).  But it is on record that “at their southern end, the Eastern Ghats form several ranges of low hills.  The southernmost of the Eastern Ghats are the low Sirumalai and Karanthamalai hills of southern Tamil Nadu (Jayakumar et al. 2008; Sankar et al. 2009).  Another anomaly is that the Sirumalai receives most of its rainfall (1,200–1,320 mm) in the months of October–December (North-east or Winter Monsoon) which is very similar to coastal Tamil Nadu (Blasco & Legris 1972; Mehr-Homji 1974).  Uniquely, Kodaikanal which is only 96.8km from Sirumalai receives the bulk of its rainfall during the south-west or summer monsoon in July.

If established literature and climate are to be taken as essential parameters for the occurrence of Cuon alpinus then it is definitely first photographic evidence of the species in the Eastern Ghats of Tamil Nadu.

 

 

For figure & image – click here

 

 

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