Dholes Rebounding in Vietnam
The dhole, Cuon alpinus, is one of the few wild dog species still living on this planet. It is considered endangered throughout its range, including India, Russia, mainland southeast Asia, Sumatra, and Java. (A good basic information site on dholes can be found here.) A news report from Vietnam notes that villagers in Cam Chinh Commune, Cam Lo District, are seeing more of them:
"Cam Chinh Commune is no longer a secluded outback town. A new paved road replaced the rough red-clay path that made travelling to the area difficult. During a visit, Nguyen Van Luong, who was a hunter but has since stopped due to legal prohibitions, told me that he had seen a dhole pack barking as they surrounded their prey.
"At first sight, a dhole may look like an ordinary dog, but its large size and hair colour distinguish it from other breeds. It grows up to a metre long, about the size of German shephered, with blazing red hair along its back. Their stomach fur is usually a lighter reddish hue, while their muzzle and tail are black.
"The dogís legs are especially long and its ears are always perked." ...
"While spending several days in the Cua, I picked up various pieces of gossip from residents that reportedly saw dholes. The locals didnít understand why the red dogs had chosen the provinceís forests as their new home.
"Woodsmen had also grown fond of the dogs because dholes are often very friendly. Normally, when they capture their prey dholes only disembowel the animal, leaving the flesh and bone mostly intact.
"According to locals, the dogs race to seek menís approval for their work after feasting.
"Once they find somebody, dholes yap fiercly in a peculiar way. Woodsmen have become accustomed to the various yelps and barks employed by the dogs to garner attention, which has led forest workers to declare the sounds as signs of good news to come.
"To be honest, I found the tales doubtful at first and it wasnít until hearing Nguyen Van Nghia, a woodsman living in Cam Chinh Commune, tell his stories on tracking dholesí footsteps leading to dead animals that I began to believe.
"One day while working in the forest, Nghia abruptly heard some loud barking. He was so astonished to hear such sound in the forest that he tracked the noise through the foothills. When he reached the third hill, the woodsmen found a dead spotted deer, which the dholes had killed and eaten the viscera.
"Only when the red dogs witnessed Nghia take the dear away did they stop barking." ...
"Leaving Ha Noi, a group of experts from the Institute for Ecology and Biological Resources, lead of Professor Pham Trong Anh and two other foreign scientists, made their way to Quang Tri Province to investigate.
"When they arrived, they had their doubts about the dholeís existance.
"'I donít think dhole can survive in this hilly environment,' proclaimed a visiting Russian scientist, and there was a growing fear among conservationists that the evidence gathered during the first search was not from dholes but another species of pack dogs.
"After being persuaded by the conservationists to stay a bit longer, the scientist visited the house of Cam Chinh Commune resident who claimed to have accidently trapped a dhole just a few days prior. The Russian scientist still held some disbelief.
"He assumed that the trapped animal belonged to another species and asked his host to provide proof. The man hastily gave the hard-to-please expert four dhole legs and a fur pelt taken from the dogís red abdomen.
"The evidence was convincing, even for the Russian. Several days later, the appearance of dhole in Quang Tri Province was officially recognised by the Wildlife Conservation Society, which published the news on their website."
[Full news posted to StrangeArk archive.]