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Indian-Wolf Picture via Pavan Kunder

Picture via Pavan Kunder

 

 

First posted on Bodahub, http://bodahub.com/indian-wolf-population-on-the-decline/#more-4272

 

By the Bodahub staff

 

Wolf and man have a millennia-old relationship. They gave us our best friend, the whole culture of the werewolves, and fascinating fare for movies and books.

 

But now, the wolf population in India is on the decline, and we may be causing widespread damage to the environment. Luckily we may have other countries to learn from.

 

The Assault on the Indian Wolf

 

The wolf population is under severe strain in India. Shortages in zoos have led to a brisk exchange program and put pressure on the endangered animals. The Indian wolf can only be found in the wild in two states: Gujarat and Rajasthan.

 

The Jodhpur Zoo recently offered a pair of lions in exchange for a pair of wolves from the Shakkarbagh Zoo in Gujarat. The female of the wolf pair is yet to be delivered. When the Shakkarbagh Zoo was keen on acquiring a pair of tigers from Bangalore, they were asked for a pair of wolves in exchange.

 

The need has created pressure on the wild population, which is already under severe duress. There are an estimated 250 wolves in Gujarat and around 300 in Rajasthan. The Gujarat authorities have set up artificial breeding centres to attempt to revive the population.

 

640px-Wolf picture via Farhan

Picture via Farhan

 

Local farmers consider the wolf a threat to their livestock and do not hesitate to chase them out of their fields or kill them by smoking out their dens. Sometimes, mothers are killed, leaving young cubs behind that cannot fend for themselves. More damage is caused by wild lands being converted to farms, and reduced food sources. Wolves like solitary places and cannot tolerate the human presence. And no, we don’t own the planet…

 

The larger worry though is that wolves play a very important role in the maintenance of the ecosystem. Wolves prey primarily on large ungulates, hoofed mammals. By preying on the most vulnerable (diseased, young, old, weak or injured) individuals, wolves help keep prey populations healthier and more vigorous. Predation by wolves also regulates ungulate distribution and group size, which impact overall native biodiversity.

 

When the ungulate population becomes too abundant for their habitat, for example, they overgraze vegetation, leading to habitat degradation and its incredibly damaging effects on other native wildlife.

 

Populations can be bred artificially, but need to be reintroduced to the wild. The effects of such experiments in the past were wildly successful and should be carefully considered by the Indian wildlife authorities.

 

The Yellowstone Park Experiment

 

When wolves were reintroduced into the Yellowstone National Park, within a short time, they managed to change the course of rivers and affect local and migratory wildlife in a positive way. In short, they completely changed the local ecology and environment – that would have otherwise taken decades of conservation efforts.

 

India could do well to learn from such efforts and emulate them. The effects of reintroducing wolves into the wild may not have the exact same extent of effects, but the benefits are undeniable.

 

But such a move needs to be supported by education, awareness, and compensatory mechanisms for the farmers when they, and their livestock, venture into a wolf’s territory.

 

India has seen a lot of success on that front in different wildlife preserves. Local populations that live on the borders of forests have shown sufficient understanding and are able to coexist with tigers, lions, and leopards.

 

The occasional loss of livestock is part of life and nature’s cycle. But it can be a win-win situation too. Local populations in the foothills of the Himalayas are now getting insurance from NGOs for snow leopard attacks on their livestock. The snow leopard is a critically endangered animal and conflict with humans is simply not acceptable.

 

However, there’s no reason why we need to wait for the wolf to become critically endangered too before we act, is there?

 

 

George Monbiot’s four minute video, How Wolves Change Rivers

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ysa5OBhXz-Q

 

 

500px-Lesser_Prairie_Chicken,_New_Mexico

By Taylor Jones, WildEarth Guardians

(Reposted from WildEarth Guardian’s newsletter, without the internal links.)

 

These amazing little western grouse have waited over a decade for the much-needed protections of the Endangered Species Act. The imperiled lesser prairie-chicken has already lost 90 percent of its historic habitat and its population is only 15 percent of what it once was.  Tell the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service you support giving these fascinating birds the full protection of the law! Comments are due on the 20th, so make your voice heard now!

Lesser prairie-chickens are famous for their mating dance, when they show off their bright yellow eye combs, inflate red air sacs on their necks, and spar in mid-air. In celebration of their proposed listing, which may at last furnish them with strong legal protections, they are doing the “Safety Dance!”

The lesser prairie-chicken’s amazing displays aren’t protected yet, though. The Service also proposed a “special rule” that would allow habitat destruction to continue in certain cases, potentially allowing weaker state plans or conservation agreements to supersede the ESA.  The Service may even allow hunting of lesser prairie-chickens, or the “incidental take” of the birds during the hunting season for their cousins, the greater prairie-chicken. These exceptions are entirely inappropriate for a species facing so many threats, including oil, gas, and wind energy development, collisions with fencing, drought, overgrazing by livestock, and habitat fragmentation.

Help put safety first – let the Service know you support the strongest ESA protections for the lesser prairie-chicken and oppose any “special rule” that would undermine their survival and recovery.  Advocate for these intriguing birds – help keep them safely dancing!

 

For the Wild,

Staff_Photo_Taylor_Jones_r.1

Taylor Jones

Endangered Species Advocate

WildEarth Guardians

tjones@wildearthguardians.org

 

To sign the letter, on the WildEarthGuardians website, on behalf of Lesser Prairie Chickens, click here.

 

Photo: Wikimedia Commons / “This image was originally posted to Flickr by Larry1732 at http://flickr.com/photos/22191277@N03/5644328619. It was reviewed on 24 April 2011 by the FlickreviewR robot and was confirmed to be licensed under the terms of the cc-by-2.0.” / “A Lesser Prairie Chicken (male) in new Mexico.”