The Wolf Intelligencer

"When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe." John Muir

Indian Wolf (Canis lupus pallipes)

Indian/Iranian Wolf (Canis lupus pallipes) – (Sykes 1831)

Common Names: Indian Wolf, Iranian Wolf

Overall population: Unknown. Estimated at 2,000-3,000.

Physical description:
“Its coloration varies from grayish red to reddish white, with a touch of grey, many of the hairs being black tipped; there is generally black on the back, especially a V-shaped patch behind the shoulders. The limbs are paler than the body. The tail slightly or decidedly tipped with black. The underparts of the body are more or less white.”
[Mivart, G. (1890), Dogs, Jackals, Wolves and Foxes: A Monograph of the Canidæ, London: R.H. Porter : Dulau, pp. 9-10]

Original range – Widespread throughout the Holy Land east and west of the Jordan River into the Indian Subcontinent.
Current range – Holy Land to the Indian Subcontinent including, India, Nepal, Iran, Israel, Lebanon, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Syria?, Afghanistan. and Bhutan?



Ladakh is a high-altitude mountain range situated in the Indian State of Jammu & Kashmir. It is located along theborders of China and Pakistan and is split into two districts–Kargil and Leh. The former is predominantly inhabited by Muslims belonging to the Twelver Shi’i sect, whereas the latter is inhabited mostly by Tibetan Buddhists belonging to the Mahayana school (Gupta, 2014; Bhatia et al., 2017). The population density of Ladakh is 4 people/km and most inhabitants are involved in subsistence agriculture and livestock rearing, although the presence of the Indian army and a recent surge in tourism have provided local people with alternative employment (Dinnerstein, 2013; Bhatia et al., 2017). Our study villages were in the Rong valley –200E) in the eastern part of Leh district inhabited predominantly by agropastoral communities (Fig. 1). In thisregion, as in other parts of Ladakh, people and wild animals share the landscape leading to frequent interactions. Crop damage by wild ungulates poses a challenge, and widespread livestock depredation by the snow leopard and the wolf, at its extreme, results in retribution or preventive killing (Bhat-nagar, Stakrey & Jackson, 1999; Maheshwari et al., 2012).
Understanding people’s responses toward predators in the Indian Himalaya. Bhatia S, Suryawanshi K, Redpath SM, Mishra C.Animal Conservation. 2020 Sep

We chose seven districts in western Maharashtra (Nashik, Ahmednagar, Pune, Satara, Sangli, Solapur, and Kolhapur),which together cover 89,853 km2of primarily semi arid human-dominated landscapes (Figures 1 and 2). District-level human population densities range from 266.48 to602.63 people/km2…The landscape is highly heterogeneous; the western fringes abutting the Western Ghats are more forested and receive higher rainfall (average monsoon rainfall June–September = 230 mm).The central and easternparts of the study area receive less rainfall (average monsoonrainfall = 90 mm), and are dominated by arid habitats with a grassland-cropland mosaic…
The region has three large river basins (the Godavari, Krishna, and the Bhima), where agricultural intensification through irrigation has modified arid habitat in the past few decades, where cultivated areas are dominated by sugarcane, millet, grapes, paddy, soya, and other cash crops (DistrictCensus Handbook; accessed July 17, 2017). Most arid lands and forests under the State Forest Department’s control have been progressively converted to monoculture plantations of Azadirachta indica, Gliricidia sepium, Eucalyptus spp., and Acacia spp.over the past five decades…
We collected detection/non detection information on all three carnivores under an occupancy framework(MacKenzie et al., 2018), treating 305 forest administrative units called“rounds”as independent sampling units…
We collected these data through interviews with forest department field staff as our key informants who were active in the field at least during the previous 12 months and were therefore likely to provide reliable information. The average area of the sites was 299.52 km2(±19.11 [standard error [SE]). Because we wanted to examine true occupancy and not habitat use, almost all sites were considerably larger than the estimated home range sizes for all species (120–300 km2 for wolf [Habib, 2007; Jhala & Giles, 1991];6–50 km2 for leopard [Odden, Athreya, Rattan, & Linnell,2014]; 6–10 km2 for hyena [Athreya et al., 2013]).
Land‐sharing potential of large carnivores in human‐modified landscapes of western India. Majgaonkar I, Vaidyanathan S, Srivathsa A, Shivakumar S, Limaye S, Athreya V. Conservation Science and Practice. 2019 May

Where wolves live depend on wild ungulateprey, their habitat is that of their prey (Mech andBoitani, 2003). However, in Bhutan it is found to be occupying alpine zone above 4000m above sea level (DoFPS, 2012)
PDF] Prey Preference and Dietary overlap of Sympatric Snow leopard and Tibetan Wolf in Central Part of Wangchuck Centennial National Park
Y Jamtsho

Habitat / Ecology / Prey:

Habitat: Thorn forests, scrub-lands, arid and semi-arid grassland habitats and agro-pastoral regions of semi-arid India.



Antelope- Nilgai (Boselaphus tragocamelus pallas), Indian gazelle “chinkara” (Gazella Bennettii), Indian antelope “blackbuck (Antelope cervicapra) , Tibetan antelope “chiru” (Pantholops hodgsonii) , chital (Axis axis) hares, rodents, livestock (goats and sheep)

Non-Prey, Wildlife and Other Predators / Carnivores

Interesting behaviors:

Legal, Economic and Cultural Background:

Middle East;  Iran, Israel, Lebanon, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Syria?, Afghanistan.
Asia; Bhutan?, India, Nepal

Taxonomic/Genetic Information:

Our study of mitochondrial DNA diversity across three different taxonomically informative domains i.e., cytochrome-B gene, 16S rDNA and hypervariable d-loop control region revealed HW to be genetically distinct from the GW as well as from all other wolves of the world, including C. lupus chanco from China. Most importantly, d-loop haplotypic diversity revealed both HW and GW from India to be significantly diverse from other wolf populations globally and showed that these represent the most ancient lineages among them. Phylogenetic analysis revealed the Indian wolves as two independent lineages in a clade distinct and basal to the clade of all wolves from outside of India.
Ancient origin and evolution of the Indian wolf: evidence from mitochondrial DNA typing of wolves from Trans-Himalayan region and Pennisular India. Aggarwal RK, Ramadevi J, Singh L.Genome Biology. 2003 Jun

Indian/Iranian Wolf
Wolves in Bhutan, India, Nepal, Iran, Israel, Lebanon, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Syria?, Afghanistan.

Further Reading

Sykes, William H. (1831). “Catalogue of the Mammalia of Dukun (Deccan); with observations on the habits, etc., and characters of new species”. Proceedings of the Committee of Science and Correspondence of the Zoological Society of London 1830–1831. London: Zoological Society of London.

Sharma, D. K.; Maldonado, J. E.; Jhala, Y. V.; Fleischer, R. C. (2004). “Ancient wolf lineages in India”. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. 271 (Suppl 3): S1–S4

Journal / Scientific Publications:

Identifying unknown Indian wolves by their distinctive howls: its potential as a non-invasive survey method. Scientific Reports. 2021 Mar


Previous studies have posited the use of acoustics-based surveys to monitor population size and estimate their density. However, decreasing the bias in population estimations, such as by using Capture–Mark–Recapture, requires the identification of individuals using supervised classification methods, especially for sparsely populated species like the wolf which may otherwise be counted repeatedly. The cryptic behaviour of Indian wolf (Canis lupus pallipes) poses serious challenges to survey efforts, and thus, there is no reliable estimate of their population despite a prominent role in the ecosystem. Like other wolves, Indian wolves produce howls that can be detected over distances of more than 6 km, making them ideal candidates for acoustic surveys. Here, we explore the use of a supervised classifier to identify unknown individuals. We trained a supervised Agglomerative Nesting hierarchical clustering (AGNES) model using 49 howls from five Indian wolves and achieved 98% individual identification accuracy. We tested our model’s predictive power using 20 novel howls from a further four individuals (test dataset) and resulted in 75% accuracy in classifying howls to individuals. The model can reduce bias in population estimations using Capture-Mark-Recapture and track individual wolves non-invasively by their howls. This has potential for studies of wolves’ territory use, pack composition, and reproductive behaviour. Our method can potentially be adapted for other species with individually distinctive vocalisations, representing an advanced tool for individual-level monitoring.

Characterising the harmonic vocal repertoire of the Indian wolf (Canis lupus pallipes)./ Sadhukhan S, Hennelly L, Habib B. PloS one. 2019

Indian Grey Wolf: first photographic record of Canis lupus pallipes from Papikonda National Park in northern Eastern Ghats, India. Shankar A, Salaria N, Balaji K, Shameer TT. ZOO’S PRINT. 2019 Apr

Identifying suitable habitat and corridors for Indian Grey Wolf (Canis lupus pallipes) in Chotta Nagpur Plateau and Lower Gangetic Planes: A species with differential management needs. Sharma LK, Mukherjee T, Saren PC, Chandra K. PloS one. 2019 Apr

Characterising the vocal repertoire of the Indian wolf (Canis lupus pallipes). Sadhukhan S, Hennelly L, Habib B. BioRxiv. 2019 Jan

Detecting hybridization between Iranian wild wolf (Canis lupus pallipes) and free-ranging domestic dog (Canis familiaris) by analysis of microsatellite markers
R Khosravi, HR Rezaei, M Kaboli – Zoological Science, 2013 –

Evidence for the persistence of Arabian Wolf (Canis lupus pallipes) in the Ibex Reserve, Saudi Arabia and its preferred prey species; T Wronski, W Macasero – Zoology in the Middle East, 2008 – Taylor & Francis

Ecology of Indian Wolf, canis lupus pallipes sykes, 1831, and modeling its potential habitat in the great Indian bustard sanctuary, Maharashtra, India
B Habib – 2007

Mitochondrial DNA coding region sequences support the phylogenetic distinction of two Indian wolf species; RK Aggarwal, T Kivisild, J Ramadevi… – Journal of Zoological …, 2007

Distribution, status and conservation of Indian gray wolf (Canis lupus pallipes) in Karnataka, India; M Singh, HN Kumara – Journal of Zoology, 2006

Foraging ecology, economics and conservation of Indian wolves in the Bhal region of Gujarat, Western India. Jethva BD, Jhala YV. Biological Conservation. 2004 Apr

[HTML] Ancient origin and evolution of the Indian wolf: evidence from mitochondrial DNA typing of wolves from Trans-Himalayan region and Pennisular India
RK Aggarwal, J Ramadevi… – Genome …, 2003

Predation on blackbuck by wolves in Velavadar National Park, Gujarat, India. Jhala YV. Conservation Biology. 1993 Dec

The status and conservation of the wolf in Gujarat and Rajasthan, India. Jhala YV, Giles Jr RH. Conservation Biology. 1991 Dec

MOVEMENTS OF A RADIO-COLLARED WOLF (CANISLUPUS PALLIPES) IN THE NEGEV HIGHLANDS, ISRAEL; DA Afik, PU Alkon – Israel journal of zoology, 1983 – Taylor & Francis; DA Afik, PU Alkon – Israel journal of zoology, 1983

notes on breeding the Indian wolf Canis lupus pallipes at Jaipur Zoo; RN Yadav – International Zoo Yearbook, 1968



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