With fewer than 2,300 mature individuals remaining, the dhole is endangered due to habitat loss, inter-species competition, depletion of prey, persecution, and disease.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature lists the dhole as endangered and estimates that there are fewer than 2,300 mature individuals remaining throughout their range in Asia, with a downward trend continuing. Estimates range from 949 to 2,215 breeding dholes left in the wild, less than the world’s breeding tigers, with a total of 4,500-10,500 individuals in total.
Threats include loss of habitat, inter-species competition, depletion of prey base consisting mostly of deer and other hoofed animals, indiscriminate persecution, and also possible disease transfer from feral and domestic dogs.
Dholes inhabit some of the most threatened, degraded and disconnected forest landscapes on the planet. The rainforests of Southeast Asia have seen unprecedented destruction over the past fifty years for palm oil, paper, rubber, timber, mining and other commodities. Where forests haven’t been destroyed, they have been fragmented by booming human populations, roads, and ever-expanding development projects.
Overhunting and snaring has decimated many prey species across southern Asia. In fact, the region is known for so-called “empty forests syndome”. Here, forests are largely emptied of any large-to-medium-sized mammal or bird, wiped out by hunting both for food and the Traditional Chinese Medicine industry.
Even where forests still stand and prey remains abundant, dholes face human persecution.