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The Himalayan Wolf was originally thought to belong to Tibetan wolf (Canis lupus chanco), which is a subspecies of the Gray wolf, but now may represent a distinct canid species, Canis himalayensis.

It is native to a small region in northern Indiamarker (Jammu and Kashmirmarker and then Himachal Pradeshmarker) and eastern Nepalmarker in the Himalayasmarker. DNA research suggested that this wolf may represent (together with the Indian Wolf) an ancient isolated line of wolves in India. The Himalayan Wolf only has a small population of 350 animals, and 21 specimens live in zoos throughout India [Inventory of animals in Indian Zoos 2000-2001, New Delhi, India 2002, 314.].


Historically, scientists have named at least 32 different subspecies of the gray wolf. The differences among subspecies were based primarily on differences in morphology. The Himalayan wolf was usually believed to be a part of the Canis lupus chanco subspecies. New evidence based on the mitochondrial DNA shows that the Himalayan wolf may be a new subspecies and perhaps even a distinct species. It is believed the Himalayan wolf separated from the Gray wolf approximately 800,000 years ago. If it is a new species, questions arise as to why it wasn't able to perpetuate across the globe in the same matter as its relative the gray wolf. [451265]


The habitat of the Himalayan Wolf is confined to small pockets of Indiamarker, Kashmirmarker, and into Chinamarker and Mongoliamarker. It is believed that when this species first evolved, they were surrounded by glaciers and other physical areas that did not promote expansion and perpetuation. Much of their habitat is shared by another newly discovered species, the Indian Wolf. It is unknown as to why these two forms do not interbreed in spite of the overlap in habitat.
Kalpa, Himachal Pradesh


Up until recently it was believed that all wolves and dogs were part of the wolf-dog clade meaning that all domesticated dogs are derived from wolves. When the Himalayan lineage was studied, it was found that the wolf shared no genetic markers with gray wolves or dogs. This indicates that the Himalayan wolf played no role in the domestication of dogs. When the divergence of the Himalayan wolf occurred 800,000 years ago, the habitat of modern day Nepal was going through major geologic and climate upheaval. The Himalayan region, also home to the Indian Wolf andthe Gray Wolf, is the only geographical location in the entire world were these three species of wolves exist, therebysupporting the theory that the Indian region is the most likely place of modern wolf evolution.


The future of the Himalayan wolf is uncertain at best. Up until recently, it wasn't known that the Himalayan wolf differs genetically from other wolves. Recent studies have estimated the population to be only 350 individuals. These wolves are viewed as a menace to local farmers and ranchers and in turn are killed because they are unprotected. Therefore, it is imperative that these animals become protected because they represent the oldest extant lineage of any species of wolf on the planet. The species is estimated to be 800,000 years old which is twice as old as the North American Gray wolf at 400,000 years old.

Captive breeding and saving

18 Himalayan wolves are being bred in captivity. They were captured in the wild, as one of the threatened species was found with the snow leopard and are now being preserved in the Trans-Himalayan region of India, the Darjeeling Zoo in Shiwalik Hills on the lower range of the Himalayamarker in West Bengalmarker, and in the Kufri Zoo withKufri Himalayan National Park located in Himachal Pradeshmarker province. In 2004, larger groups of Himalyan wolves were spotted in the Spiti valley.. The total population evaluates for 21 individuals in four of the Zoological Parks of India.

See also

External links


  • 1. Journal of Zoological Systematics and Evolutionary Research 45 (2), 163–172.
doi:10.1111/j.1439-0469.2006.00400.x. R. K. Aggarwal, T. Kivisild, J. Ramadevi, L. Singh (2007). Volume 45 Issue 2 Page 163-172, May 2007. ...Distinction of two Indian wolf species
  • 2. Ramesh K. Aggarwal, J. Ramadevi and Lalji Singh.Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Hyderabad 500 007, India. Genome Biology 2003. Ancient origin and evolution of the Indian wolf [451266]
  • 3. Sharma, D. K., J. E. Maldonaldo, Y. V. Jhala, and R. C. Fleischer. 2003. Ancient wolf lineages in India. Proceedings of the Royal Society, London B (Supplement) Biology Letters. Published online August 8, 2003. "Ancient wolf lineages in India."
  • 4. Wolves in India. The Ancient Wolves of India.
  • 5. Wolves. Did They Originate In South Asia? By Dipesh Satapathy. An Indo-U.S. team of zoologists uncovers fascinating evidence about the evolution of wolves in India. UsembassyState.

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