Since industrialisation, wolves have been gradually wiped out from many parts of the world. It is estimated that around 350 of these unique and endemic wolves survive in the Indian Himalayas. Himalayan wolves share the landscape with their charismatic co-predators, snow leopards. However, not much was known in terms of the movement ecology of these wonderful canids. Research has led us to begin to understand why wolves move. It enables us to answer why wolves use a resource at a given time and to what extent. This can help in conserving the species with respect to the region, its prey, or the forest in which it occurs.
Usually found in packs of about four to five individuals, these wolves move up to 20 km in a day. Photo: Surya Ramachandran
Found in the high-altitude ecosystems of the Himalayas and the Tibetan plateau, the Himalayan wolf belongs to an ancient lineage of wolves. Cover Photo: Dhritiman Mukherjee
Wolf habitats have been degrading for many years, under pressure from human unplanned development, changing lifestyles and landscape use. This directly or indirectly affect the populations, habitats and prey base of these species. Understanding how these animals interact with their habitats can suggest ways and measures to protect and manage their habitat. These are top predators, and whatever happens to them percolates down to other levels of the ecosystem. Interactions with feral dogs, disease, and prey depletion may lead to their complete extermination.
“One day the wolf met the dog and they became friends. The dog asked the wolf, ‘Can you teach me your gait and in exchange I will teach you how to smell’. The wolf taught the dog his gait, but the dog tricked the wolf and did not impart its ability to smell. And since then, wolves and dogs have never been friends.” — Folklore from Spiti, Himachal Pradesh