Himalayan Wolf

Captive moulting Himalayan wolf in Bangladesh

The term Himalayan wolf (referred to by the provisional name "Canis himalayensis") has been suggested by several Indian biologists for recognition as a critically endangered canid species, distinct from Canis lupus. In its morphological features, social and reproductive behavior, the Himalayan wolf resembles the Tibetan wolf, Canis lupus chanco.[1]

However, the IUCN Wolf Specialist Group has not taken a position regarding this issue. The editors of Mammal Species of the World consider the small population to be Tibetan wolves, a subspecies of the gray wolf.[2]



Kalpa, Himachal Pradesh

The Himalayan wolf may represent an ancient isolated line of wolves consisting of a small population of about 350 animals. They inhabit an area of 70,000 km2 (27,000 sq mi) in the trans-Himalayan region of Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir in northern India, and are adapted to the cold environment.[3]

In 2004, a group of 33 Himalayan wolves were spotted in the Spiti Valley in the northeastern part of Himachal Pradesh.[4]


Until recently, all wolves and dogs were believed to be part of the wolf-dog clade, meaning all domesticated dogs are derived from wolves. When the Himalayan lineage was studied, it became apparent these wolves shared no genetic markers with dogs. This indicates the Himalayan wolf played no role in the domestication of dogs. When the divergence of the Himalayan wolf occurred 800,000 years ago, the Himalayan region was going through major geologic and climatic upheaval.[5]

The Indian subcontinent includes three diverse, distinct wolf lineages — Indian wolf, Tibetan wolf and Eurasian wolf. This fact makes the Indian region the likely cradle of modern wolf evolution.[5]

Mitochondrial DNA analysis suggests the Himalayan wolf is distinct from the Tibetan wolf, and represents the most ancient wolf lineage ever recorded.[1]


The future of the Himalayan wolf is uncertain. The systematics of wolves from the Indian subcontinent remains controversial and needs further study.[6]

In April 2009, the Latin binom Canis himalayensis has been proposed as nomenclatural and taxonomic change by the Nomenclature Specialist on the CITES Animals Committee.[7]

Captive breeding

In 2000-2001, four of the Zoological Parks of India kept 21 individuals. Eighteen Himalayan wolves are being bred in captivity. They were captured in the wild and are now being preserved in the trans-Himalayan region of India, at the Darjeeling Zoo in Shiwalik Hills on the lower range of the Himalaya in West Bengal, and in the Kufri Zoo with Kufri Himalayan National Park located in Himachal Pradesh province.[3]

See also


  1. ^ a b Aggarwal, R. K., Kivisild, T., Ramadevi, J., Singh, L. (2007). "Mitochondrial DNA coding region sequences support the phylogenetic distinction of two Indian wolf species". Journal of Zoological Systematics and Evolutionary Research 45 (2): 163–172. doi:10.1111/j.1439-0469.2006.00400.x. 
  2. ^ Wozencraft, W. Christopher (16 November 2005). "Order Carnivora (pp. 532-628)". In Wilson, Don E., and Reeder, DeeAnn M., eds. Mammal Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference (3rd ed.). Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2 vols. (2142 pp.). ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC 62265494. 
  3. ^ a b Aggarwal, R. K., Ramadevi, J., Singh, L. (2003). "Ancient origin and evolution of the Indian wolf: evidence from mitochondrial DNA typing of wolves from Trans-Himalayan region and Peninsular India". Genome Biology 4 (6): P6. doi:10.1186/gb-2003-4-6-p6. 
  4. ^ "Indian wolves are world's oldest". BBC News. April 17, 2004. 
  5. ^ a b Jhala, Y., Sharma, D. K. (2004). "The Ancient Wolves of India". International Wolf (International Wolf Center): 15–16. Archived from the original on September 27, 2007. 
  6. ^ Dinesh K. Sharma, Jesus E. Maldonado, Yadrendradev V. Jhala & Robert C. Fleischer (2004). "Ancient wolf lineages in India". Proceedings of the Royal Society B. Biology Letters 271: S1–S4. doi:10.1098/rsbl.2003.0071. JSTOR 4142540. PMC 1809981. PMID 15101402. 
  7. ^ "Nomenclatural Matters. Twenty-fourth meeting of the Animals Committee Geneva, (Switzerland), 20–24 April 2009" (PDF). CITES. 2009. 
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