The Asiatic wild dog or dhole (Cuon alpinus) is an endangered, yet little-studied, species throughout its range in Nepal. We examined habitat selection and diet of the dholes by searching for dholes in the Dhorpatan Hunting Reserve (DHR), the only hunting reserve in Nepal, and developed a habitat selection model to determine their habitat preferences. We also collected anecdotal data on depredation events and attitudes toward the dholes from 89 local people. We collected each dhole scat encountered and conducted dietary analysis to calculate the percent frequency of occurrence of each prey item and to estimate the biomass consumed by dholes in the study area. The dholes used most habitat types and targeted a wide range of prey species and sizes, but avoided barren land, Juniperus spp. — and Abies spp.—dominated forests, and habitat under anthropogenic pressure. Eighty percent of the dhole's diet was represented by wild prey species; blue sheep (Pseudois nayaur) comprised 13.9% and livestock comprised 20% of the diet. The consumption of livestock has led to a negative attitude of local people toward dhole conservation. As blue sheep are the main trophy hunting species of the DHR, there is also the potential for competition between hunters and dhole, and other predators, for blue sheep. Our habitat selection model will be useful for estimating the probability of occurrence of this species within similar regions. These findings provide baseline information for authorities responsible for preparing conservation action plans for this species and managing the co-existence of humans and dholes within the reserve.
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Vol. 96 • No. 1