Kathmandu, 7 June 2023
Global experts and conservationists meet in Nepal to discuss priorities and action plans to conserve Asiatic wild dogs during the 2nd International Dhole Conference
For the first time in the country’s history, over 40 experts from 13 countries met in Nepal, to outline global priorities and conservation action plan to safeguard Asiatic wild dog ‘dhole’ populations as part of the 2nd International Dhole Conference. The meeting, supported by over 15 local and international institutions was held at the National Trust for Nature Conservation (NTNC) centre at Chitwan National Park from 1 June to 6 June 2023.
The dhole (called Junglee Kukur in Nepalese) is an endangered carnivore that belongs to the dog family. Dholes are found across south and southeast Asia, mostly in forests and high-altitude areas. The meeting hosted at NTNC was conducted by the Dhole Working Group, part of the IUCN Species Survival Commission’s Canid Specialist Group. The expert group conducted consultations and meetings to discuss the species’ Red List reassessment and also to outline National Conservation Action Plans for Nepal, India and Thailand–– countries that are global population hotspots and current strongholds for dholes.
Speaking at the event, Dr. Nucharin Songsasen of the Smithsonian Institute (USA), and Chair of the IUCN Dhole Working Group said, “The conference offered an incredible avenue for expanding the network of experts and inspire young professionals to work towards conserving dholes”. Over the past nine years, the working group has been making great strides in promoting dhole research, conservation and awareness through outreach activities. The meeting benefited from the participation of dhole researchers, student presenters, government officials of Nepal, media personnel, local community representatives and grass-roots conservationists.
The dhole suffers from repercussions of conflict with humans following livestock depredation, particularly in the Himalayan regions of Nepal, Bhutan and Northeast India. Mr. Ambika Prasad Khatiwada, country representative of Nepal for the Dhole Working Group said, “The threats to dholes can be minimized by addressing human-dhole conflict through consultation with local communities and developing and implementing national and regional plans for their long-term conservation actions". The discussions led to conceptualizing key actions to protect dhole populations in Nepal and beyond, which included socio-ecological research to assess human–dhole conflict, compensation and insurance mechanisms to safeguard domestic animals from dhole conflict, and increasing trans-boundary efforts across Asian countries to ensure dhole population connectivity.
Members of the Dhole Working Group, as well as the other experts and attendees of the conference are optimistic that the outcomes of the meeting will be a milestone for dhole conservation in Nepal and a matter of immense hope for safeguarding dhole populations across its range in south and southeast Asia.