Himalayan Wolf Classified as 'Vulnerable' on IUCN Red List

  • 17 Jan 2024

The elusive Himalayan Wolf (Canis lupus chanco), a significant lupine predator inhabiting the Himalayas, has recently undergone its inaugural assessment on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)'s Red List, revealing a disconcerting status.

Key Points

  • Vulnerable Classification:The Himalayan Wolf, Canis lupus ssp. chanco, is officially categorized as 'Vulnerable' on the IUCN Red List, marking its first-ever assessment conducted on June 27, 2023.
  • Population Size Estimate: The classification is based on a population size estimate ranging from 2,275 to 3,792 mature individuals, acknowledging uncertainties in this calculation.
  • Geographical Concentration: All individuals are concentrated in a single subpopulation spanning the Himalayan range of Nepal and India and the Tibetan Plateau.
  • On-going Population Decline: A continuous decline in the population is suspected due to substantial threats and a lack of conservation action, as highlighted in the Red List assessment.
  • Indian Himalayan Presence: India hosts 227-378 mature individuals in its Himalayan region, with an estimation based on research by Shivam Shrotriya in 2020.

Conservation Concerns

  1. Genetic Uniqueness: Previous studies confirmed the Himalayan wolf's genetic uniqueness, emphasizing the need for conservation efforts.
  2. Habitat Decline: The assessment flags a continuing decline in the area, extent, and quality of Himalayan wolf habitat.

Emerging Threats

  • Depredation Conflict: High livestock abundance in wolf habitats leads to conflicts, driven by habitat modification, encroachment, and depletion of wild prey populations.
  • Hybridisation with Dogs: The increasing population of feral dogs poses a growing threat, leading to hybridisation with Himalayan wolves in Ladakh and Spiti.

Illegal Hunting Concerns

  • Himalayan wolves face illegal hunting for trade in fur and body parts, including paws, tongues, heads, etc.
  • Hunting is not legal in all range states, emphasizing the need for regulatory measures.

Conservation Measures Recommended

  • Securing Prey Populations: Enhance protection by securing and restoring healthy wild prey populations.
  • Livestock Guarding Methods: Implement predator-proof corral pens and sustainable herding practices to mitigate conflicts.
  • Feral Dog Management: Address the challenge posed by increasing feral dog populations.
  • Trans-boundary Conservation: Collaborative efforts in conservation through research and monitoring across range countries.
  • Public Awareness: Incorporate Himalayan Wolf in conservation programs to promote public acceptance and reduce persecution.