Jun 11, 2019

The Underdogs

In the year 2025, the best men don’t run for president, they run for their lives…

Stephen King

In a future dystopia, mankind has succumbed to a deadly virus and amidst this chaos and death, a new dominant species has arisen. 

The few left spend their time, running and hiding from this predator.

“This meeting is called to brief you on, how to avoid being killed and to stay alive. I am here to tell you about the new dominant species of planet Earth; the Wild Dogs also popularly called Dholes.”

We have limited data available on this animal.

Before the epidemic, this animal was forgotten by conservationists, researchers and the general public alike. The IUCN status read endangered.

Contrary to the beauteous Tiger, the dhole failed to grab attention.

The Tiger stole the show, with research and funding pouring over the big cat like fish to the water. (Having said that saving the tiger has consequently led to saving of habitats of dholes and hence the dholes themselves)

Habitat destruction, hunting of its prey species, retaliatory killing from farmers and diseases from domestic dogs have had a serious impact on their population.

During the British rule in India, there was a bounty on dholes and large numbers were wiped of the face of the earth.

The reason behind this was the dogs were considered vermin, believed to be responsible for depleting the forest of wild ungulates. The same animals which were hunted by the elite for trophies to adorn their residences and flatter their manliness.

However they are back. I mean literally, who let the dogs out?

The Killing Machine

The scientific name for wild dogs is Cuon alpinus meaning mountain dog. While the origin and meaning of the word ‘dhole’ is unclear.

They are different from their cousins, the wolf and the jackal. They have two molars on each side of the upper and lower jaw instead of three making their jaws more compact and adapted to tearing and searing flesh. This adaptation allows them primarily a meat diet and gives them the title hyper-carnivores (70% meat diet). 

These reddish brown dogs are lean with a deep chest and thin legs. They have black bushy tails and they weigh between 12-20 kilograms.

They are tremendous athletes and are capable of chasing prey across great distances.

Remember, if you think you can outrun them, you can’t!

They dominate a wide habitat from alpine steppes to evergreen and deciduous forest, their range is depicted in the distribution map below.

Dhole Distribution

In India places to avoid (if in your universe man is still causing chaos then best places to sight) the Dholes is Pench, Kanha National Parks in Madhya Pradesh and Bandipur and Nagarhole National Parks in Karnataka.

Hunting

They could give lectures and hold corporate workshops on Team work.

They are a well-oiled machine whose synergy reflects their ability to tackle prey 10 times their body weight.

Led by the alpha, these hunters coordinate by a unique sound which resembles a whistle, hence the name “whistling hunters”.

They depend on stamina unlike their fellow predators the felines, which depend on stealth.

They will chase and exhaust their prey and during the run they gnaw at the thighs of the victim weakening it.

Due to their jaw structure and size they do not go for the killing bite to the neck, but rather devour the quarry alive.

“Ruthless beast!” (Says man)

So don’t lie unconscious it won’t work and also don’t jump in the water to avoid them they are excellent swimmers.

Dholes Strategist

Social Behaviour

These rusty killers demonstrate a complex social behaviour of which we have little knowledge.

Within a pack of dholes the alpha male and female are the only two that engage in breeding.

As compared to the wolf, the alpha male of a pack of dholes has been observed to display less dominant and aggressive behaviour. This is evident while feeding their pups first before they can have their share. The pack is often seen playing and socializing which helps to strengthen the bond between them.

Another unique adaptation specific to the females is the six to seven teats for the suckling pups instead of five compared to the other canids enables them to have large litter sizes.

Their pack size varies around 5-12 individuals, however larger packs of 30-40 individuals have also been sighted.

These pack sizes require dholes to command a large area, however if prey density is high even a small area would suffice.

This sums up ‘The all you need to know’, survival guide.

I wish you all the best! Happy running!

Dholes in Pench

Conclusion

Wow that was a strange dream!

I think I got the dream wrong, in a world ruled by dogs, shouldn’t the planet (including us) be better off?

Perhaps our dreams are also a reflection of our own narcissism as humans.

In a world, where a dog is a man’s best friend we sure know how to treat their wild cousins.

With numbers dipping to a critical level, research and funding dedicated to this magnificent animal is the need of the hour.

We need to give these whistling wonders the attention they deserve.

I hope this dog has its day soon!

— Sohel —

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