Indian Wolf – Canis lupus pallipes
Have you heard about the Indian Wolf? They are the only Wolves found in Asia. But that is not all. It has been estimated that there are merely 3500 to 5000 wolves left on earth. They are often hunted for their smooth fur, their meat, and the medicinal use of some of their body parts is one of the primary reasons why their numbers have dramatically declined over time.
For this article, we will give the Indian Wolf a quick rundown of its beautiful appearance. We’ll also look at the sacred status of these creatures and why they are so special.
If you’re a bit of a wolf-whisperer or have just found yourself howling at the moon, here are six quick incredible facts about Indian Wolf that you might not know.
- Indian Wolf has an excellent sense of smell and can hear up to two kilometers away
- The Indian Wolf has four types of vocalization- howling, growling, whimpering, or barking
- They are the only wolf species native to the Indian Subcontinent
- They have a speckled coat that closely resembles the desert terrain of India.
- Indian Wolves can howl at a frequency of 180 decibels, which is louder than a rock concert.
- In the Rudyard Kipling series ‘The Jungle Book,’ the canid Mowgli is raised by Indian wolves.
The reddish or light brown coloring of the Indian Wolf is part of why many believe it to be a fox when they catch a glimpse of it in the wild. At 10 to 14 inches tall, 30 to 45 inches long, and weighing anywhere from 40 to 80 pounds, the appearance of the Indian Wolf is uniquely different from other canines.
Distinctive features of the Indian Wolf are its gray and brown pelt with black speckles, long muzzle, and erect ears, which provide superb hearing, along with a short tail with a white tip that can switch between black and white. It also has distinctive, coarse facial hair. The feet are also covered in fur, but there are no other tufts or patches of hair on the front or back legs.
Since they live in a warm region, their fur is shorter and less dense than other species. For this reason, they can survive more in warmer areas.
These wolves are found on the open lands of India, and they can survive in areas that are considered to be desert-like. Some of the locations in India where they have been known to roam are Pradesh and Gujarat.
The Indian Wolf is as remarkable in its habitat as it is in size. Found throughout a wide geographic range, the Indian Wolf inhabits various terrains and successfully adapts to widely varying conditions.
The Wolf’s natural habitat covers arid regions, tropical forests, deserts, scrublands, and alpine tundra. Such an expansive range of ecosystems allows the Wolf to prey upon more than 50 species.
Behavior in the wild
While the Indian Wolf can howl just like other species, it rarely does. The reason why is puzzling to experts. However, it is believed that they don’t feel as territorial about their range as other species. Therefore they don’t use the howl to warn others that they have already staked a claim in a given location.
The canine is capable of moving at a speed of around 70 to 80km per hour. It is also very adept at climbing trees. It can leap to a height of 7 meters from a standstill position. Indian wolves are nocturnal animals, and they prefer hunting at night.
Diet and Feeding
Feeding primarily on small ungulates and carrion, the Indian Wolf has evolved into a formidable predator. With very keen eyesight, they run fast and will often chase their prey at a fast speed. The choice of game is quite broad. The Wolf subsists on smaller animals like rabbits, rodents, and raccoons. The Wolf is also said to prey upon ungulates such as deer and antelope. The wolves will spread themselves out evenly around the area they want to hunt to have the most excellent chance of catching their prey. This hunting usually takes place at night and ends at dusk.
The Indian Wolf forgives when it comes to family ties. Even though packs exist, they are not tight-knit, and a wolf from one pack can move around freely without fear of being attacked by others.
Faithful to his mate, the Indian Wolf never strays in search of a new one. They are monogamous and stay with their mate for life. Every Mid-October to late December is the breeding season for Indian wolves, which give birth to 5-6 pups.
The average gestation period is 62 to 75 days, and the newborns don’t open their eyes till another ten days. It is believed that the timing of the rains, which bring out additional food sources for these wolves, is partially responsible for their breeding time.
The mother wolf will have several dens in a given area and move her young around often. However, the care of the pups is the responsibility of the entire pack until they are ready to leave the den, usually at about three months old. After their mothers go, other wolves will care for the pups. It won’t be long before they are hunting for food on their own. The puppies won’t become mature enough for reproductive behavior until the next two years.
The lifecycle of an Indian wolf is pretty similar to that of most dogs. They reach sexual maturity by two years, in which the female will give birth to a litter of 4 to 5 pups. They breed once or twice a year, and mating occurs during mid-winter.
Because the world can be just so damn cruel, wolves experience an average lifespan of only five to six years in the wild. In captivity, however, they can live for another fifteen – which seems like some twisted curse.
Threats to Survival
For the past four decades, the Indian Wolf has been experiencing a rapid reduction in its population. Due to various reasons such as scarcity of prey, absence of suitable habitat, high density of people, and highly persistent hunting pressure by humans, the Indian Wolf has undergone a drastic decline and is now on the brink of extinction. These wolves are found in only about 25,000 square miles today.
The conservation status of Indian wolves is near threatened, and this is reflected in its IUCN Red List since it’s been placed in category D1 (where one is closest to threat). It is highly challenging to keep them from extinction; nevertheless, each passing day sees more and more people joining to protect these lovely canids.
It is believed that only about 3,000 Indian Wolves remain in the wild today. There is only one known location at this time where they are kept in captivity. This location is the JaiSamand Sanctuary in Rajasthan.
Wolves in these areas are hunted due to past conflicts and live in economically depressed areas; this makes it hard to implement effective conservation practices. Many feel that the funding should be spent on helping the people of India instead of protecting the wolves. It becomes an issue where ethics and politics continue to present red tape to get through.
There are stories in India about this particular Wolf stealing small children. However, experts don’t believe this is true. Rather than assuming that the rumors are true, people in the mountains suspect the stories were passed down generations to get children to stay close to the villages. It is also believed other animals may have taken some children, but that the Indian Wolf isn’t to blame.
This particular Wolf is known to kill livestock, which means it has become an enemy of people in those regions. They are also known to attack humans, and experts believe this is due to their lack of food in their natural environment. Even though it is protected due to being endangered, hunting of them continues.
Culture and Folklores
Indian Wolves play a notable role in Indian folklore, where they are referred to as dhole. In contrast to wolves elsewhere, Indian ones do not howl. They live in extensive burrows or caves located either on a mountain top or the forested slopes below. Bedtime stories in rural areas tell children of Indian wolves who can transform themselves into humans.
The Wolf can be found in many Indian folktales and is renowned for its intelligence, loyalty, and bravery. In the Jungle Book, Mowgli learns from a family of Indian wolves. They teach him how to hunt, survive in the jungle and be safe from jungle predators like the Bengal tiger Shere Khan.
Protecting the Wolf Street
The Indian Wolf was one of the most widespread large carnivores in the sub-continent. Although this fascinating animal is now confined to a small corner, mainly within the Chandrapur reserve forest, in central India, wolves still occasionally stray out of these forests to as far away as southern Nepal. The canine is one of the cutest and most adorable animals in India. They might not be as famous or flamboyant as tigers, but they have their appealing character. They need our help to survive the raging world.