Behavioral responses of the Chinese dhole (Cuon alpinus lepturus) to conspecific and prey vocalizations

The main objective of this project was to develop a technique that can be used in field studies to increase the probability of locating dholes ( Cuon alpinus) in the wild. The dhole is an endangered canid, occupying a wide variety of habitats in southern and eastern Asia. Dholes have proven to be a very difficult species to locate and study in the wild; therefore, the current status in much of its range, its ecology, and habitat requirements are not well known. Currently, field researchers lack a reliable method for capturing dholes in the wild, and nearly all field studies to date have been primarily observational in nature. This study evaluated the response of Chinese dholes ( Cuon alpinus lepturus) to auditory playbacks employing a variety of vocalizations. The primary objective of this research was to determine a vocalization that would cause the dholes to approach the source of the sound. The subjects of this study were five captive dholes at the San Diego Wild Animal Park. The sounds used in playback can be divided into four different categories: dhole (unknown individuals), dOOle (known individuals), prey sounds, and control (white noise). The results of this study show the use of auditory playbacks may have implications for field conservation projects. All sounds used in playback elicited an approach response by at least one animal. The dhole whistle vocalization, specifically the unknown whistle, elicited the greatest relative approach response from the dholes in this study with two dholes approaching in four of four trials and one responding in three of four trials. KEYWORDS: Cuon a/pinus, vocal communication, playback, dhole, bioacoustics