A recent study has discovered a reduction in dhole occupancy in Karnataka’s Western Ghats, from 62 percent in 2007 to 54 percent in 2015.Massive infrastructural initiatives in the area, human intrusion in protected zones, change in land-use pattern, forest fragmentation and loss of forest cover are some of the reasons for the decline in dhole population, write the researchers.Researchers advocate the development of eco-sensitive zones that buffer the boundaries of protected reserves, which can help fragmented populations of forest-dependent species remain connected. Carnivores of the wild have always fascinated the human race. Worldwide, extensive efforts have been made and large fortunes spent to revive the number of some of the top predators in their natural habitat. But not all these efforts have borne fruit. Several species of carnivores have been witnessing a global population decline. The Asiatic wild dog, also known as dhole (Cuon alpinus), has been added to the list. It is declared as Endangered in the IUCN Red List. A recent study, published in the journal Scientific Reports, examined the distribution and population dynamics of dholes across 37,000 square km of the Western Ghats, first in 2006-7 and subsequently in 2014-15. From 62 percent, the occupancy (the area over which dhole signs were recorded) dipped to 54 percent. “Dholes are among the most threatened yet under-studied species in India and across the world. They are apex predators with fascinating social lives, and quite unique in that they are among the very few carnivores that are both forest-dependent and group-living,” said study author Arjun Srivathsa from Wildlife Conservation Society-India and the University of Florida. “We know little about their populations and there is a critical need to better understand their ecology so that they can be conserved using strategies backed by science,” he added.