The foraging ecology of dhole (Cuon alpinus) in Mudumalai Sanctuary, Southern India

Venkataraman, Arun B. ; Arumugam, R. ; Sukumar, R. (1995) The foraging ecology of dhole (Cuon alpinus) in Mudumalai Sanctuary, Southern India Journal of Zoology, 237 (4). pp. 543-561. ISSN 0952-8369

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Two dhole (Cuon alpinus) packs were monitored in Mudumalai Sanctuary, southern India, during 1989-93 to look at population dynamics, movement pattern, and foraging strategy and their inter-relationship with the maintenance of social groups. Pack size fluctuated substantially (4-18 and 4-25 in the two packs) owing to dispersal and demographic factors such as females not breeding in a given year. Both packs killed a much higher proportion of chital (Axis axis) and sambar (Cervus unicolor) fawns (<one year old) than their availability in the population. There was no correlation between pack size and body weight of prey killed, while per capita consumption of meat declined with increasing pack size. Home-range area (83.3km2 and 54.2km2 for the two packs) was not correlated with pack size. Pack movement from one resource patch (consisting of resting sites and aggregations of prey species) to another was not random or based on factors such as inter-patch distance or relative prey densities. There was no difference in mean residence time of the pack across the four resource patches; the pack moved across these in a sequential manner in one direction. We conclude that dholes live in groups not because of any advantages accruing from enhanced group sizes through increased per capita yield of food, but as a consequence of the dispersion of resources.

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