The Himalayan wolf (Canis lupus chanco ) is a canine of debated taxonomy. It is distinguished by its genetic markers, with mitochondrial DNA indicating that it is genetically basal to the Holarctic grey wolf, genetically the same wolf as the Tibetan wolf, and has an association with the African golden wolf (Canis lupaster ). No striking morphological differences are seen between the wolves from the Himalayas and those from Tibet. The Himalayan wolf lineage can be found living in Ladakh in the Himalayas, the Tibetan Plateau, and the Central Asian highlands predominantly above 4,000 m in elevation because it has adapted to a low-oxygen environment, compared with other wolves that are found only at lower elevations.Show More
Some authors have proposed the reclassification of this lineage as a separate species. In 2019, a workshop hosted by the IUCN/SSC Canid Specialist Group noted that the Himalayan wolf's distribution included the Himalayan range and the Tibetan Plateau. The group recommends that this wolf lineage be known as the "Himalayan wolf" and classified as Canis lupus chanco until a genetic analysis of the holotypes is available. The Himalayan wolf lacks a proper morphological analysis. The wolves in India and Nepal are listed on CITES Appendix I as endangered due to international trade.Show Less
The Himalayan wolf has a thick, woolly fur that is dull earthy-brown on the back and tail, and yellowish-white on the face, belly, and limbs. It is about 110 cm (45 in) long and 76 cm (30 in) tall at the shoulder. It is larger than the Indian wolf. It has closely spaced black speckles on the muzzle, below the eyes, and on the upper cheeks and ears. It weighs about 35 kg (77 lb).Show More
The heart of the Himalayan wolf withstands the low oxygen level at high elevations. It has a strong selection for RYR2, a gene that initiates cardiac excitation.Show Less
In China, the Himalayan wolf lives on the Tibetan Plateau in the provinces of Gansu, Qinghai, Tibet, and western Sichuan.Show More
In northern India, it occurs in the Union Territory of Ladakh and in the Lahaul and Spiti region in northeastern Himachal Pradesh. In 2004, the Himalayan wolf population in India was estimated to consist of 350 individuals ranging across an area of about 70,000 km2 (27,000 sq mi).Between 2005 and 2008, it was sighted in the alpine meadows above the treeline northeast of Nanda Devi National Park in Uttarakhand. In 2013, a wolf was photographed by a camera trap installed at an elevation around 3,500 m (11,500 ft) near the Sunderdhunga Glacier in Uttarakhand's Bageshwar district.
In Nepal, it was recorded in Api Nampa Conservation Area, Upper Dolpa, Humla, Manaslu, Upper Mustang, and the Kanchenjunga Conservation Area. The Nepal Himalayas provide an important habitat refuge for the Himalayan wolf.Show Less
The howls of the Himalayan wolf have lower frequencies, unmodulated frequencies, and are shorter in duration compared to Holarctic wolf howls. The Himalayan and North African wolves have the most acoustically distinct howls and differ significantly from each other and the Holarctic wolves.
The wolf in Bhutan, India, Nepal, and Pakistan is listed on CITES Appendix I.In India, the wolf is protected under Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, which prohibits hunting; a zoo needs a permission from the government to acquire a wolf. It is listed as endangered in Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, and Uttarakhand, where a large portion of the wolf population lives outside the protected area network. Lack of information about its basic ecology in this landscape is an obstacle for developing a conservation plan.In Nepal, it is protected under Schedule I of the National Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act, 2029 (1973) prohibiting hunting it.In China, the wolf is listed as vulnerable in the Red List of China’s Vertebrates, and hunting it is banned.