Often overshadowed by other predators, the wolf is integral to wildlife in India.
A swift runner, it chases down its prey with ease. Its strong jaws and immense endurance make it an apex predator. It is distributed in many parts of the country and there are two primary sub-species:
Indian Grey Wolf
Canis Lupus Pallipes
The Indian Grey Wolf is found in several parts of western and central India. You can find it in Madhya Pradesh to Rajasthan, Gujarat and Maharashtra. Rajasthan, with its rugged landscape, is great wolf terrain.
You’re likely to see wolves in Kailadevi, near Ranthambore, and Kumbhalgarh, near Jawai, as well as lesser known parks like Todgarh and Mount Abu wildlife sanctuaries. It’s short fur allows it to flourish, despite the intense summer heat in these regions. It’s the smallest of all wolf sub-species, and unlike other wolves, it rarely howls.
Just south of Rajasthan, the grasslands of Kutch, Velavadar, and the Western Satpura range are terrific for wolf-spotting.
In Central India, Pench and its buffer zones have a large wolf population, and sightings in this region are some of the best. Despite its fearsome reputation, these wolves are extremely affectionate creatures with one another within a pack and nurture their young.
Watching them interact with one another is fascinating. Within the pack, they watch out and care for each other, making them an unparalleled team of hunters.
The Himalayan Wolf
This wolf is commonly called the Tibetan Wolf. It inhabits the upper reaches of the Himalayas.
There’s been a lot of research conducted around its gene-pool recently, and its evolution can be traced back to an ancient lineage. These wolves are found in parts of Kashmir, Ladakh and the Lahaul and Spiti valleys in Himachal Pradesh. Hemis National Park, Dachigam, and Kibber are prime hunting ground for the Himalayan wolf.
A rare genetic mutation makes it the only wolf species in the world that survives at such high altitudes.
It feeds off gazelles, marmots and other small creatures that inhabit this arid landscape. The Himalayan Wolf and the Snow Leopard [link can take you to SL page] are both apex predators, but they co-exist with one another in the Trans-Himalayan region.
Although they are well-camouflaged against the snow, the Ulley Valley and Hemis National Park are the best places to catch a glimpse and a shot (with your camera, of course).
These wolves do not hunt alone. They usually run in small packs ranging from around 2-8 members. A mating pair is at the top of the hierarchy, and gets first rights to the carcass, after which the rest of the pack feasts off it. Sometimes, if you’re lucky, you can spot a pair of wolves loping off across the snow-covered ground.