|Asiatic wild dog, bamboo forest, Rakhine Yoma, Myanmar: May 5, 2011|
UMA's photo of a dhole or Asiatic wild dog (Cuon alpinus) was taken during the elephant survey in Rakhine Yoma Elephant Sanctuary.
I saw my first dhole in Nepal in the late 1970s while taking a late afternoon stroll near Tiger Tops Jungle Lodge with Hemanta Mishra and the late wildlife photographer Dieter Plage.
I asked Plage why he was taking his movie camera. It was huge, clearly a burden, and we were only on a dusty jeep track killing some time before happy hour.
His reply was something to the effect that you encounter wildlife when you least expect it, and he wanted to be ready for the unexpected.
Five minutes later a dhole paused at the edge of the road and Plage started filming. It trotted across the road and two more followed it.
He had made his point.
A couple years later my colleagues the Mishras and Sunquists were with me in India's Kanha National Park.
We were on elephant back when we stumbled on a sambar doe -- just killed.
The ranger advised us to come back in a half hour, and when we arrived the wild dogs were feeding. Only bones were left the next morning.
In February 1995 we were beginning a radio-telemetry study of Burmese brow-antlered deer in Chatthin Wildlife Sanctuary, Myanmar.
When the radio-tracking team returned to camp that evening they were excited.
One doesn't witness large mammal predation in forested habitats, but they had just encountered a pack of three taw kway or wild dogs hunting on the ridge above camp.
First an exhausted and gasping muntjac labored by within yards of the radio-trackers.
Then, moments later three wild dogs ran right into the trackers.
They stopped in their tracks to stare at the people, who wasted no time scaring them off.
I started to plan for a wild dog study, bought radio-transmitters, and we engaged a professional trapper from the US to teach the research team how to live-trap wild dogs.
We caught jackals and civets and never saw another wild dog in the park.
Nor did we get any reports of them from villagers.
The taw kway had left the wildlife sanctuary and vanished somewhere in the plains between the Irrawaddy and the Chindwin.