Research on communication in dholes (Cuon alpinus)
Report: SAWAGURI Shuta
Date: 2013/06/27 - 2014/02/03
The dhole (Cuon alpinus) is a pack-living canid species, living in India, Southeast Asia, Russia, etc. Their main habitat is a dense forest with poor visibility and vocal and scent communication might be vital in this species. Dholes actually have been reported to produce many types of calls in several situations both in the wild and captivity (Johnsingh 1982, Fox 1984, Volodin et al. 2001) and probably communicate using these calls. However, the function(s) of each call type is not well understood yet. I have been conducting research at Ueno Zoological Park and Yokohama Zoological Park (Zoorasia), Japan, Night Safari, Singapore, Arignar Anna Zoological Park (AAZP) and Mudumalai Tiger Reserve (MTR), India since 2010. 134 behavioural patterns and 13 call types were identified and the functions of some frequent call types were estimated in my master thesis. The problem was that I could not obtain sufficient behavioural data on their hunting and pup-raising for an ethogram in the species. Thus this fieldwork during the period from 27th June 2013 to 3rd February 2014 was crucial for my research to estimate the functions of the other call types and observe the behaviours above more.
Two packs whose individuals were all identified were followed and their behaviour and calls were observed. A den of one pack was found on 8th January and their behaviour at the den was recorded for continuous 14 days. All pack members including a mother stayed within approximately 200 metres from the den for most of the daytime. All of them or the other adults than the mother left the den for hunting in the early morning or dusk. Three call types of their pups were recorded during the observation. The den was shifted on 22nd January and at least four roles of adults in shifting a den were observed. Information on each location, number and freshness of their faeces was collected.