Overview

Comprehensive Description

Miscellaneous Details

"A remarkable story is related by a writer in the 'Asian,' who states that he saw a wolf rolling on its back with its legs in the air, whilst some antelopes that were attracted to approach by curiosity advanced to within sixty or seventy yards ; then they were accidentally disturbed, and two other wolves, that had been lying in ambush 100 yards apart in advance of the third, jumped up. It is also said that when wolves attack sheep, part of the pack attack and keep the dogs in check, whilst others carry off the prey. A somewhat similar story is related by Forsyth, except that the victims were children. In the Dumoh district of the Central Provinces an old she-wolf and a full-grown cub haunted a patch of bushes and grass near a village standing on the slope of a hill, down which ran the main street, where children were always at play. The smaller wolf hid amongst bushes between the village and the bottom of the hill, whilst the larger animal went round to the top, and, watching its opportunity, ran down the street, carrying of a child on the way. First the people used to pursue, and sometimes made the marauder drop his prey ; but in that case the companion wolf usually succeeded in carrying off another of the children in the confusion, whilst the child first seized was generally so injured as to be beyond recovery. In this, as in many other similar cases, a very wide-spread superstition prevented the villagers from hunting down and killing the animals; and Forsyth actually found it difficult to get men to assist him in shooting the brutes, in which he fortunately succeeded. The great aversion to killing a wolf that exists in many parts of India is due, I am told by Mr. Theobald, to a widely spread belief that the blood of a wolf, if shed upon the lands of a village, renders them unfruitful. The Indian wolf has both speed and endurance, and has very rarely, if ever, been run down and speared from horseback, though the feat has often been attempted.If hunted with greyhounds a wolf generally, after going for some distance, turns upon the dogs and chases them back to the hunts-man. Instances of this are given by both Jerdon and Forsyth; but the latter relates how in one case a wolf that had chased back two greyhounds met his match in a bull mastif. Jerdon states that a wolf once joined his greyhounds in hunting a fox. In the Indian desert between Rajputana and Sind wolves are said by Sir B. Frere (Journ. R. Geogr. Soc. 1870, p. 204) to be dug or smoked out of their dens amongst the sand-hills. This is generally done about midday in the hottest part of the hot season; the men engaged protect their feet with folds of raw hide, and if the wolves are not clubbed or speared at once they are easily run down, as the hot sand blisters their feet and disables them.(Blanford 1888)."
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Summary

"The Indian wolf is smaller than the European wolf and is a subspecies of the former. They are social but do not form large packs. A typical pack is from 6-8 individuals. They hunt in pairs and prey on antelopes, rodents and hares."
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Physical Description

Morphology

"Greyish fulvous, usually with a brownish tinge, some-times much mixed with black on the back ; some have a reddish tinge, and occasionally it is said that a thoroughly rufous individual is met with. Browner than C. lupus generally, and of an earthy grey colour. Hair of varying shades of light brown from the base to near the end ; tips black on the back. Coarse white hairs are mixed with the finer fur near the skin. The hairs on the tail have generally black tips. Lower parts dingy white. The young are sooty brown, with a milk-white chest-spot, which disappears about the sixth week from birth, when a dark collar appears below the neck, but is lost at maturity."
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Size

"Head and body about 3 feet, tail with hair 16 to 17 inches."
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Ecology

Habitat

General Habitat

"Used to be found throughout the whole of India, rare in wooded districts, and most abundant in open country. However, it is now restricted to certain regions in fragmented populations and is currently endangered."
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Life History and Behavior

Behavior

Behaviour

"The Indian wolf, although somewhat gregarious, is not known to associate in large packs (I have never heard of more than six to eight together - Blanford 1888). It is also rather a silent animal, but sometimes, Jerdon says, it barks like a pariah dog. It is rarely, if ever, heard to howl. Indian wolves prey on all mammals or birds they can kill, but especially on sheep, goats, and antelopes. Instances are not rare of their attacking man, two or more combining for the purpose; and they, in some parts of India, carry away a large number of children yearly, usually taking them from villages. They course and run down hares and foxes, and occasionally attack cattle. They not unfrequently kill dogs. Like all wild canines, these animals are very intelligent and cunning, and many of the stories told of the stratagems they em-ploy to secure their prey appear to be well authenticated. One plan, vouched for by several observers, is that of part of the pack driving antelopes or gazelles across a spot where others of the pack are lying in ambush, either in ravines or in hollows scratched by themselves in the ground. Some wolves, too, are said to lie in wait hidden until antelopes approach them while feeding."
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Reproduction

"Wolves breed in holes in the ground, or caves. The young vary in number from three to eight, and are born from October to December, chiefly in the latter month. They are born blind and with drooping ears."
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Wikipedia

Indian wolf

The Indian wolf (Canis lupus pallipes) is a subspecies of grey wolf which ranges from Israel to the Indian Subcontinent. It is intermediate in size between the Tibetan and Arabian wolf, and lacks the former's luxuriant winter coat.[1] Along with the extant Himalayan and African wolves, as well as the now extinct Beringian wolf, the Indian wolf represents one of the more basal subspecies of grey wolf,[2][3] with one genetic study indicating that the Indian wolf has been reproductively isolated from other populations for over 400,000 years.[4]

Taxonomic history[edit]

The Indian wolf was first described in 1831 by the British ornithologist William Henry Sykes under the binomial Canis pallipes.[5] In 1941, Reginald Pocock subordinated it to Canis lupus under the trinomial Canis lupus pallipes.[1] Based on assumptions made, MtDNA studies on various wolf subspecies inhabiting the Indian Subcontinent indicated that C. l. pallipes represents an older lineage of wolves than those present in Europe and North America, having likely diverged from the older Himalayan wolf 400,000 years ago.[4] The authors of two studies proposed that C. l. pallipes populations in peninsular India are genetically distinct enough to be considered separate species, further proposing that the animal should be given the binomial name Canis indica.[4][6]

Description and habits[edit]

Captive Indian wolf, Islamabad Zoo, Islamabad, Pakistan.
Skull

The Indian wolf is similar in structure to the European wolf, but is smaller, more slightly built, and has shorter fur with little to no underfur.[7] Like the Arabian wolf, it has short, thin fur in summer, though the hair on the back remains long even in summer, an adaptation thought to be against solar radiation.[8] The fur is generally greyish-red to reddish-white with grey tones. The hairs are grizzled with black, particularly on the back, which sports a dark V-shaped patch around the shoulders. The limbs are paler than the body, and the underparts are almost completely white.[9] Pups are born sooty-brown, with a milk-white patch on the chest which fades with age.[7] Black specimens are rare, but have been recorded in India's Solapur district and two regions of Iran. In the latter country, the mutation was found to be naturally occurring, unlike in North American grey wolves, which have inherited the Kb allele responsible for melanism from past interbreeding with dogs.[10][11]

Its habits are similar to those of other grey wolf subspecies, though the Indian wolf generally lives in smaller packs rarely exceeding 6-8 individuals, and is relatively less vocal,[7] having rarely been known to howl.[9] There is at least one record of a lone wolf associating with a pair of dholes in Debrigarh Wildlife Sanctuary.[12] It tends to breed from mid-October to late December, and whelp in holes or ravines.[9] It typically preys on antelopes, rodents, and hares.[13] It usually hunts in pairs when targeting antelopes, with one wolf acting as a decoy while the other attacks from behind.[7]

Range and status[edit]

During the 19th century, wolves were widespread in many parts of the Holy Land east and west of the Jordan River. However, they decreased considerably in number between 1964 and 1980, largely due to persecution by farmers.[14] Currently, Israel's conservation policies and effective law enforcement maintain a moderately sized wolf population, which radiates into neighbouring countries. Turkey may play an important role in maintaining wolves in the region, due to its contiguity with Central Asia. The mountains of Turkey have served as a refuge for the few wolves remaining in Syria. A small wolf population occurs in the Golan Heights, and is well protected by the military activities there.[15] Although Turkish wolves have no legal protection, they may number about 7,000 individuals.[16]

Little is known of current wolf populations in Iran, which once occurred throughout the country in low densities during the mid-1970s.[15] Although widespread throughout the country, being absent only in the central desert and Dasht-e Lut, there is no reliable estimation on the wolf's population size there. Wolves in Iran continue to suffer from habitat loss, unregulated hunting and loss of prey.[17][18]

The northern regions of Afghanistan and Pakistan are important strongholds for the wolf. It has been estimated that there are about 300 wolves in approximately 60,000 km2 (23,000 sq mi) of Jammu and Kashmir in northern India, and 50 more in Himachal Pradesh.[15] Hindus traditionally considered the hunting of wolves, even dangerous ones, as taboo, for fear of causing a bad harvest. The Santals, however, considered them fair game, as with every other forest-dwelling animal.[19] During British rule in India, wolves were not considered game species, and were killed primarily in response to them attacking game herds, livestock, and people. In 1876, in the North-West Provinces and Bihar State, 2,825 wolves were killed in response to 721 fatal attacks on humans.[20] Two years later, 2,600 wolves were killed in response to attacks leaving 624 humans dead.[21] By the 1920s, wolf extermination remained a priority in the NWP and Awadh. Overall, over 100,000 wolves were killed for bounties in British India between 1871 and 1916.[20] In modern India, the Indian wolf is distributed across the states of Gujarat, Rajasthan, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. As of 2004, it is estimated that there are around 2000–3000 Indian wolves in the country.[22] They are mainly found outside of protected reserves and feed mainly on domestic animals, such as goats or sheep. However, in areas where natural prey is still abundant, for example in Velavadar National Park or Panna Tiger Reserve, natural prey species are still preferred.[23] Although protected since 1972, Indian wolves are classed as Endangered, with many populations lingering in low numbers or living in areas increasingly used by humans. Although present in Nepal and Bhutan, there is no information of wolves occurring there.[15]

Relationships with humans[edit]

A miniature, depicting a wolf hunt in ancient Persia

Attacks on humans[edit]

Indian wolves have a history of preying on children, a phenomenon called "child-lifting". In 1878, 624 people were killed by wolves in Uttar Pradesh, and 14 others were killed in Bengal during the same period.[24] In 1900, 285 people were killed in the Central Provinces.[25] Between 1910 and 1915, 115 children were killed by wolves in Hazaribagh, and 122 were killed in the same area in 1980–1986. In Jaunpur, Pratapgarh and Sultanpur in Uttar Pradesh, wolves killed 21 children and mauled 16 others from March 27, 1996 to July 1, 1996. Between April 1993 and April 1995, five wolf packs attacked 80 children, 20 of whom were rescued, in Hazaribagh, West Koderma and Latehar Forest Divisions. The children were taken primarily in the summer period in the evening hours, and often within human settlements.[24]

In Iran, wolf attacks have been reported for millennia. As with India, many cases of wolves making off with small children have been reported. Adults have been attacked on occasion, including an incident in which a policeman was killed and partially eaten by three wolves after dismounting his horse to relieve himself.[26] On January 2, 2005 in the village of Vali Asr, near the town of Torbat Heydariya, northeastern Iran, a wolf pack attacked a homeless man in front of witnesses. Although the police intervened, the man died of his wounds.[27] In early November 2008, a wolf attacked an 87-year-old woman in the village cemetery of Kashan in central Iran, biting off one of her fingers, but was suffocated to death when she fought back.[28]

In culture[edit]

Wolves are occasionally mentioned in Hindu mythology. In the Harivamsa, Krishna, to convince the people of Vraja to migrate to Vrindavan, creates hundreds of wolves from his hairs, which frighten the inhabitants of Vraja into making the journey.[29] In the Rig Veda, Rijrsava is blinded by his father as punishment for having given 101 of his family's sheep to a she-wolf, who in turn prays to the Ashvins to restore his sight.[30] Bhima, the voracious son of the god Vayu, is described as Vrikodara, meaning "wolf-stomached".[31]

The wolf has an ambivalent reputation in Iranian culture, being demonised in the Avestas as a creation of Ahriman,[30] and still features in contemporary cautionary tales told to misbehaving children.[32]

Indian wolves take a central role in Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book series, in which a pack in the Sioni area of Madhya Pradesh adopts the feral child Mowgli, and teaches him how to survive in the jungle whilst protecting him from the tiger Shere Khan and the marauding dhole.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Pocock, R. I. (1941), Fauna of British India: Mammals volume 2, Taylor & Francis, pp. 82-94
  2. ^ Leonard, Jennifer A.; Vilà, Carles; Fox-Dobbs, Kenna; Koch, Paul L.; Wayne, Robert K.; Van Valkenburgh, Blaire (21 June 2007). "Megafaunal extinctions and the disappearance of a specialized wolf ecomorph". Current Biology (Elsevier Ltd) 17 (3): 1146–1150. doi:10.1016/cub.2007.05.072. Retrieved December 20, 2014. 
  3. ^ Gaubert P, Bloch C, Benyacoub S, Abdelhamid A, Pagani P, et al (2012). "Reviving the African Wolf Canis lupus lupaster in North and West Africa: A Mitochondrial Lineage Ranging More than 6,000 km Wide". PLoS ONE 7 (8): e42740. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0042740. PMC 3416759. PMID 22900047. 
  4. ^ a b c Jhala, Y.; Sharma, D. K. (2004). "The Ancient Wolves of India" (PDF). International Wolf 14 (2): 15–16. Archived from the original on 2009-04-21. 
  5. ^ Sykes, William H. (1831). "Canis pallipes". Proceedings of the Committee of Science and Correspondence of the Zoological Society of London (London: Zoological Society of London) I: 101. Retrieved 28 December 2013. 
  6. ^ 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. Archived from the original on 2009-02-05. 
  7. ^ a b c d Blanford, W. T. (1888), Fauna of British India: Mammalia, London,Taylor and Francis, pp. 137-40
  8. ^ Harrington, F. H. & Paquet, P. C. (1982). Wolves of the World: Perspectives of Behavior, Ecology, and Conservation. Park Ridge, N.J: Noyes Publications. ISBN 0-8155-0905-7
  9. ^ a b c Mivart, G. (1890), Dogs, Jackals, Wolves and Foxes: A Monograph of the Canidæ, London : R.H. Porter : Dulau, pp. 9-10
  10. ^ Lokhande, A. S. & Bajaru, S. B. (2013). "First Record of Melanistic Indian Wolf Canis lupus pallipes from the Indian Subcontinent". Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society. 110(3) pp. 220-30
  11. ^ Khosravi, R. (2014) "Is black coat color in wolves of Iran an evidence of admixed ancestry with dogs?", Journal of Applied Genetics, DOI: 10.1007/s13353-014-0237-6
  12. ^ Nair, M. V. & Panda, S. K. (June 2013), Just Friends, Sanctuary Asia, Vol. XXXIII, No. 3
  13. ^ Yadvendradev, V. Jhala (December 1993). "Predation on Blackbuck by Wolves in Velavadar National Park, Gujarat, India". Conservation Biology (Wiley & Sons) 7 (4): 874–881. doi:10.1046/j.1523-1739.1993.740874.x. 
  14. ^ Qumsiyeh, Mazin B. (1996), Mammals of the Holy Land, Texas Tech University Press, pp. 146–148, ISBN 089672364X
  15. ^ a b c d Mech, L. David; Boitani, Luigi (2003). Wolves: Behaviour, Ecology and Conservation. University of Chicago Press. p. 326-27. ISBN 0-226-51696-2.
  16. ^ Zuppiroli, Pierre; Donnez, Lise (2006). "An Interview with Ozgun Emre Can on the Wolves in Turkey" (PDF). UKWCT 26: 8–9. Archived from the original on 2011-07-27. 
  17. ^ Khosravi, R. et al. (2012), "Morphometric variations of the skull in the Gray Wolf (Canis lupus) in Iran", Acta Theriol DOI 10.1007/s13364-012-0089-6
  18. ^ Khosravi, R., Rezaei, H.R., Kaboli, M., 2013. Detecting hybridization between Iranian wild wolf (Canis lupus pallipes) and free-ranging domestic dog (Canis familiaris) by analysis of microsatellite markers. Zool. Sci. 30, 27–34.
  19. ^ Maclean, Charles (1980). The Wolf Children. Harmondsworth, Eng.; New York: Penguin Books. p. 336. ISBN 0-14-005053-1. 
  20. ^ a b Knight, John (2004). Wildlife in Asia: Cultural Perspectives, Psychology Press, pp. 219–221, ISBN 0700713328
  21. ^ Bright, Michael (2002). Man-Eaters. New York: St. Martin's Paperbacks. p. 304. ISBN 0-312-98156-2. 
  22. ^ Yadvendradev, V. Jhala; Giles, Robert H. Jr. (December 1991). "The Status and Conservation of the Wolf in Gujarat and Rajasthan, India". Conservation Biology (Wiley) 5 (4): 476–483. doi:10.1111/j.1523-1739.1991.tb00354.x. Retrieved 29 December 2013. 
  23. ^ Singh, Mewa; Kumara, H. N. (2006). "Distribution, status and conservation of Indian gray wolf (Canis lupus pallipes) in Karnataka, India". Journal of Zoology 270 (1): 164–169. doi:10.1111/j.1469-7998.2006.00103.x. 
  24. ^ a b Rajpurohit, K.S. 1999. Child lifting: Wolves in Hazaribagh, India. Ambio 28:162–166.
  25. ^ Burton, R.G. (1991). A Book of Man Eaters, Mittal Publications.
  26. ^ Mader, T. R. "Wolf Attacks on Humans". P. O. Box 2, Beresford, SD 57004: Abundant Wildlife Society of North America, Research Division. Retrieved 28 December 2013. 
  27. ^ Homeless man eaten by wolves in Iran. Iranfocus (2005-01-04)
  28. ^ Wolf slain by 87-year-old Iranian woman. presstv.ir (2008-11-08).
  29. ^ Wilson, H. H., Hall, F. (1868). The Vishńu Puráńa: A System of Hindu Mythology and Tradition. Trubner
  30. ^ a b Krishna Murthy, K. (1985). Mythical animals in Indian art. Abhinav Publications, ISBN 0-391-03287-9
  31. ^ Wilkins, W. J. (2004). Hindu Mythology, Vedic and Puranic. S.l: Kessinger Publishing. ISBN 0-7661-8881-7. 
  32. ^ Humphreys, P. & Kahrom, E. (1999). Lion and Gazelle: The Mammals and Birds of Iran. I.B.Tauris. pp. 88-9. ISBN 1860642292
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