IUNCN Puts Himalayan Wolf in Red

By Our Correspondent

IUNCN Puts Himalayan Wolf in Red Source: Himalayan News Chronicle

International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)’s has assessed for the first time the Himalayan Wolf and has put it in its Red List which means it is among “endangered” Species. Species are classified into one of nine Red List Categories: Extinct, Extinct in the Wild, Critically Endangered, Endangered, Vulnerable, Near

The list is based on a population size estimate of 2,275-3,792 mature individuals depending on best available data  while also acknowledging uncertainty in this estimate. It added that all individuals were in one subpopulation stretching across the Himalayan  range  of Nepal and India and across the Tibetan Plateau. “…A continuous decline in the population is suspected considering ongoing substantial threats and lack of conservation action,” it noted. India  has  227- 378  mature  individuals in its section of the Himalayas and few more would be in Ladakh and the Spiti Valley of Himachal Pradesh.

Small area of wolf habitat is also available in Uttarakhand and Sikkim, where a few more individuals could be present, it added. It was in 2018 that a study by a team of British and Nepalese researchers had confirmed that the Himalayan or Woolly wolf was a genetically unique clade/lineage/ race of wolves, which had to be conserved before it went extinct.

The IUCN Red List Assessment has also flagged ‘continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat’ of Himalayan wolves. “Depredation conflict is a major conservation concern, given a seasonal or permanent high livestock abundance in wolf habitats that often form summer pastureland for livestock grazing. Habitat modification and encroachment and depletion of wild prey populations are important drivers of this conflict,” the assessment read.

It highlighted that hybridisation with dogs was also an emerging threat to the Himalayan wolf population in Ladakh and Spiti “where increasing populations of feral dogs pose a growing challenge”.

The wolf is illegally hunted for trade in its fur and body parts including paws, tongues, heads, and other parts. However, hunting of these wolves is not legal in all range states. The Himalayan wolves’ prey on as many as 39 species and  half  their diet is domestic livestock because  of  loss  in natural prey base.

IUCN Red List classifies species into nine groups, specified through criteria such as rate of decline, population size, area of geographic distribution, and degree of population and distribution fragmentation. The Red List: Extinct (EX) – beyond reasonable doubt that the species is no longer extant. Extinct in the wild (EW) – survives only in captivity, cultivation and/or outside native range, as presumed after exhaustive surveys. Critically endangered (CR) – in a particularly and extremely critical state. Endangered (EN) – very high risk of extinction in the wild, meets any of criteria A to E for Endangered. Vulnerable (VU) – meets one of the 5 Red List criteria and thus considered to be at high risk of unnatural (human- caused) extinction without further human intervention. Near threatened (NT)  –  close  to being endangered in the near future. Conservation Dependent (CD) - a category whose documentation previously was absent - inferred to simply be an oversight - which has been introduced into this article to preserve its ‘Term - Definition’ structure. Least concern (LC) – unlikely to become endangered or extinct in the near future. Data deficient (DD), Not evaluated (NE) In the IUCN Red List, “threatened” embraces the categories of Critically Endangered, Endangered, and Vulnerable.