Cuonalpinus (Dhole) - Genetics based population studies

Dhole, commonly known as the Asiatic wilddog is a much understudied species with a low fragmented population distributed across partsof South/South East Asia. Now a protected species, the Dhole is in danger of extinction owing to years ofhabitat disturbance,depletion in prey populations and human interference amongst many reasons. 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 species identification using non-invasive genetic tools and techniques. 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 vital database of genetic/species information could help assist wildlife conservationists, biologists andwildlife related policy makers with timely decisions regarding 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 our heightened awareness of such a rare and endangered animal. Further genetic work is currently being carried out to finalize Dhole species identification sat CMDN/INPL.