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No more than 3,100 wolves live in India. With an ancient pedigree, these animals are as endangered as tigers
May 20, 2022 11:45 am | Updated May 24, 2022 09:36 pm IST
Abi T. Vanak,Mihir Godbole
Indian grey wolves are unlike their European and American counterparts | Photo Credit: THE GRASSLANDS TRUST
‘Wolf! Wolf!’ The driver in the vehicle facing us silently mouthed, and pointed to his right. Within seconds, a pack of three magnificent Indian grey wolves appeared in the savanna grasslands, less than 100 metres from us. A large male, followed by what appeared to be a heavily pregnant female, and finally a younger male, probably from their previous litter. Eyeing us cautiously, they walked into the adjoining plantation and disappeared.
There were many things special about this sighting. We were observing the top predator of India’s grasslands, in their natural habitat, but this was far from any national park or wildlife sanctuary. This was virtually in Pune city’s backyard, a landscape full of people, agriculture and domestic livestock. The Grasslands Trust, an NGO based in Pune, has been observing packs in these landscapes for over a decade. They have documented over 10 different breeding packs that use this landscape of around 700 sq. km. The wolves share this incredible landscape with a suite of other endangered species, the Indian gazelle (chinkara), the Indian fox, the striped hyena, and scores of migratory and resident birds. This area is also home to tens of thousands of agro-pastoralists, and is used as the monsoon grazing grounds by the Dhangar community, a tribe of nomadic