Cuonalpinus (Dhole) - Genetics based population studies

Dhole, commonly known as the Asiatic wilddog is a much understudied species with a lowfragmented population distributed across partsof South/South East Asia. Now a protectedspecies, the Dhole is in danger of extinctionowing to years ofhabitat disturbance,depletion in preypopulations andhuman interferenceamongst manyreasons. In SouthAsia, Dholes arethought to occur inBhutan, Bangladesh,Tibet and the alpineregion of Nepal.

At CMDN, highly suspected Dhole fecal samplescollected across several geographical regions ofNepal (alpine in particular) were brought for speciesidentification using non-invasive genetic tools andtechniques. Post extraction, PCRs were setup with Dhole specific primers (D-Loop Forward/Reverse)targeting a 310bp locus of the Dhole 5’ controlregion as well as the mitochondrial cytochrome-bregion using universal primers. With the datathus obtained, several levels of genetic analysesincluding assessment of individual species,population variation and phylogenetic relationscan be made. Furthermore, sex identification andgene flow transfers can also be studied with thegenetic tools available to us. In return, this vitaldatabase of genetic/species information could helpassist wildlife conservationists, biologists andwildlife related policy makers with timely decisionsregarding proper conservation action. But mostimportantly, the study helps gain valuable insighton the habit, habitat, number and dispersion of anunderstudied species like the Dhole resulting in ourheightened awareness of such a rare and endangeredanimal. Further genetic work is currently beingcarried out to finalize Dhole species identificationsat CMDN/INPL.