Distribution and habitat use of the endangered Dhole Cuon alpinus (Pallas, 1811) (Mammalia: Canidae) in Jigme Dorji National Park, western Bhutan

Main Article Content

Chhimi Namgyal
Phuntsho Thinley


The Dhole is a little-studied wild canid with decreasing populations throughout its global range.  We conducted this study in Bhutan’s Jigme Dorji National Park (JDNP) to establish baseline records of Dhole distribution and habitat use. We used trail transects and recorded animal presence via tracks, scats, direct sightings and camera traps. Ancillary habitat characteristics such as elevation, slope and vegetation cover were recorded to characterise habitat use.  We used MaxEnt model to estimate distribution within JDNP.  We recorded 609 indicators of Dhole presence over a 60-day survey period.  The model estimated almost one-fourth of JDNP as having a high probability of Dhole occurrence, which closely corresponds to the distribution of cool broadleaved forests (CBLF) and areas close to human settlements.  The highest number of indicators was obtained from CBLF, between slope ranges of 2 – 38 degree and elevation ranges of 1,468 m – 4,620 m above sea level, indicating a new record upper altitude limit for Dhole distribution across its global range.  We highlight JDNP as an important Dhole conservation area in the Eastern Himalayas, and recommend drafting a pragmatic conservation plan that will strive to minimize conflicts with livestock owners and include key components such as farmer education and livestock insurance to cover Dhole kills. 

Article Details

How to Cite
Namgyal, C. and Thinley, P. 2017. Distribution and habitat use of the endangered Dhole Cuon alpinus (Pallas, 1811) (Mammalia: Canidae) in Jigme Dorji National Park, western Bhutan. Journal of Threatened Taxa. 9, 9 (Sep. 2017), 10649–10655. DOI:https://doi.org/10.11609/jott.3091.9.9.10649-10655.
Author Biographies

Chhimi Namgyal, igme Dorji National Park, Department of Forests and Park Services, Damji, Gasa, Bhutan

Chhimi Namgyal has been working as a Senior Park Range Officer at Soe Range under Jigme Dorji National Park since 2011.  Prior to his transfer to the park, he has worked as a Forestry Extension Agent in Paro District.  He completed his Bachelor’s degree in Forestry from the College of Natural Resources, Bhutan, in June 2016.  


Phuntsho Thinley, Ugyen Wangchuck Institute for Conservation and Environment Research, Department of Forests and Park Services, Lamoigoenpa, Bumthang, Bhutan

Phuntsho Thinley (PhD) is a Principal Forestry Research Officer at the Ugyen Wangchuck Institute for Conservation and Environment Research in Bhutan.  He is primarily interested in wildlife ecology and human-wildlife interactions. Formerly the Park Manager of Jigme Dorji National Park (2009–2012), he also teaches at the College of Natural Resources in Bhutan as an adjunct lecturer.


Aryal, A., S. Panthi, R.K. Barraclough, R. Bencini, B. Adhikari, W. Ji & D. Raubenheimer (2015). Habitat selection and feeding ecology of Dhole (Cuon alpinus) in the Himalayas. Journal of Mammalogy 96(1): 47–53; https://doi.org/10.1093/jmammal/gyu001

Bashir, T., T. Bhattacharya, K. Poudyal, M. Roy & S. Sathyakumar (2014). Precarious status of the Endangered Dhole Cuon alpinus in the high elevation Eastern Himalayan habitats of Khangchendzonga Biosphere Reserve, Sikkim, India. Oryx 48(1): 125–132; https://doi.org/10.1017/S003060531200049X

Durbin, L.S., A. Venkataraman, S. Hedges & W. Duckworth (2004). Dhole (Cuon alpinus), pp. 210–219. In: Sillero-Zubiri, C., M. Hoffmann & D.W. Macdonald (eds.). Candids: Foxes, Wolves, Jackals and Dogs. Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan. IUCN/SSC Canid Specialist Group, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK, 430pp.

Elith, J., S.J. Phillips, T. Hastie, M. Dudı´k, Y. En Chee & C. Yates (2010). A statistical explanation of MaxEnt for ecologists. Diversity and Distributions 17(1): 43–57; http://doi.org/10.1111/j.1472-4642.2010.00725.x

Fielding, A.H. & J.F. Bell (1997). A review of methods for the assessment of prediction errors in conservation presence/absence models. Environmental Conservation 24(1): 38–49.

Giraudoux, P. (2014). Pgirmess: Data analysis in ecology. R package version 1.5.9. http://CRAN.R-project.org/package=pgirmess. Downloaded on 06 August 2014.

Heptner, V.G., A.A. Nasimovich & A.G. Bannikov (1998). Sirenia and Carnivora (Sea Cowes, Wolves, and Bears). In: Heptner, V.G. & N.P.

Naumov (eds.). Mammals of the Soviet Union. Smithsonian Institution Libraries and National Science Foundation, Washington, D.C., U.S.A.

Jenks, K.E., S. Kitamura, A.J. Lynam, D. Ngoprasert, W. Chutipong, R. Steinmetz, R. Sukmasuang, L.I. Grassman Jr., P. Cutter & N. Tantipisanuh (2012). Mapping the distribution of Dholes, Cuon alpinus (Canidae, Carnivora), in Thailand. Mammalia 76(2): 175–184; http://doi.org/10.1515/mammalia-2011-0063

Johnsingh, A.J.T. & B. Acharya (2013). Asiatic Wild Dog (Cuon alpinus), pp. 392–415. In: Johnsingh, A.J.T. & N. Manjrekar (eds.). Mammals of South Asia (Volume 1). Universities Press (India) Private Ltd., Noida, New Delhi, India, 614pp.

Kamler, J.F., N. Songasen, K. Jenks, A. Srivathsa, L. Sheng & K.E. Kunkel (2015). Cuon alpinus. In: The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015: e.T5953A72477893. Downloaded on 18 March 2016; http://doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2015-4.RLTS.T5953A72477893.en

Karanth, K.U. & M.E. Sunquist (1995). Prey selection by Tiger, Leopard and Dhole in tropical forests. Journal of Animal Ecology 64(4): 439–450.

Karanth, K.U. & M.E. Sunquist (2000). Behavioural correlates of predation by Tiger (Panthera tigris), Leopard (Panthera pardus) and Dhole (Cuon alpinus) in Nagarahole, India. Journal of Zoology 250(2): 255–265.

Katel, O.N., S. Pradhan & D. Schmidt-Vogt (2015). A survey of livestock losses caused by Asiatic Wild Dogs, Leopards and Tigers, and of the impact of predation on the livelihood of farmers in Bhutan. Wildlife Research 41(4): 300–310; http://doi.org/10.1071/WR14013

Krishnan, M. (1972). An ecological survey of the larger mammals of peninsular India. The Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society 68: 42–47.

Pallas, P.S. (1831). Zoographia Rosso-Asiatica: sistens omnium animalium in extenso Imperio Rossico et adiacentibus maribus observatorum recensionem, domicilia, mores et descriptiones anatomen atque icones plurimorum, 1. Caes.

Papeş, M. & P. Gaubert (2007). Modelling ecological niches from low numbers of occurrences: assessment of the conservation status of poorly known viverrids (Mammalia, Carnivora) across two continents. Diversity and Distributions 13(6): 890–902; http://doi.org/10.1111/j.1472-


Phillips, S.J., R.P. Anderson & R.E. Schapire (2006). Maximum entropy modeling of species geographic distributions. Ecological Modelling 190(3): 231–259; http://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecolmodel.2005.03.026

Phillips, S.J., M. Dudík & R.E. Schapire (2004). A maximum entropy approach to species distribution modeling. In: Proceedings of the 21st international Conference on Machine Learning. ACM, 83pp.

R Core Team (2015). R: A language and environment for statistical computing. R Foundation for Statistical Computing, Vienna, Austria. http://www.R-project.org/ Accessed 25 June 2015.

Ramesh, T., N. Sridharan, K. Sankar, Q. Qureshi, K.M. Selvan, N. Gokulakkannan, P. Francis, K. Narasimmarajan, Y.V. Jhala & R. Gopal (2012). Status of large carnivores and their prey in tropical rainforests of south-western Ghats, India. Tropical Ecology 53(2): 137–148.

Srivathsa, A., K.K. Karanth, D. Jathanna, N.S. Kumar & K.U. Karanth (2014). On a dhole trail: examining ecological and anthropogenic correlates of Dhole habitat occupancy in the Western Ghats of India. PloS ONE 9(6): e98803; http://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0098803

Thenius, E. (1954). On the origins of the Dhole. Osterr Zoological Zeitsch 5: 377–388.

Thinley, P., D. Leki, P. Dorji, C. Namgyel, S. Yoenten, Phuntsho & T. Dorji (2014). Estimating Snow Leopard (Panthera uncia) Abundance and Distribution in Jigme Dorji National Park using Camera Ttraps: A Technical Report. Jigme Dorji National Park, Thimphu, Bhutan, 45pp.

Thinley, P., J.F. Kamler, S.W. Wang, K. Lham, U. Stenkewitz & D.W. Macdonald (2011). Seasonal diet of dholes (Cuon alpinus) in northwestern Bhutan. Mammalian Biology 76(4): 518–520; http://doi.org/10.1016/j.mambio.2011.02.003

Thinley, P., J.P. Lassoie, S.J. Morreale, P.D. Curtis, R. Rajaratnam, K. Vernes, L. Leki, S. Phuntsho & T. Dorji (2017). High relative abundance of wild ungulates near agricultural croplands in a livestock-dominated landscape in Western Bhutan: Implications for crop damage and protection. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment 248: 88–95;


Thinley, P., S.J. Morreale, P.D. Curtis, J.P. Lassoie, T. Dorji, Leki, S. Phuntsho & N. Dorji (2015a). Diversity, occupancy, and spatio-temporal occurrences of mammalian predators in Bhutan’s Jigme Dorji National Park. Bhutan Journal of Natural Resources and Development 2(1): 19–27; http://doi.org/10.17102/cnr.2015.03

Thinley, P., L. Tharchen & R. Dorji (2015b). Conservation management plan of Jigme Dorji National Park for the period January 2015 – December 2019: Biodiveristy conservation in pursuit of Gross National Happiness. Department of Forests and Park Services, Kuensel Corporation Ltd., Thimphu, Bhutan, 110pp.

Wang, S.W. & D.W. Macdonald (2009). Feeding habits and niche partitioning in a predator guild composed of Tigers, Leopards and Dholes in a temperate ecosystem in central Bhutan. Journal of Zoology 277(4): 275–283; http://doi.org/10.1111/j.1469-7998.2008.00537.x

Wangchuk, T. (2004). Predator-prey dynamics: The role of predators in the control of problem species. Journal of Bhutan Studies 10: 68–89.

Wangchuk, T., P. Thinley, K. Tshering, C. Tshering, D. Yonten, B. Pema & S.

Wangchuk (2004). A Field Guide to the Mammals of Bhutan. Royal Government of Bhutan, Thimphu, Bhutan, 180pp.

Most read articles by the same author(s)