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The Wolves of Koppal

posted Jun 7, 2017, 6:48 PM by chloe owens

5/21/17, by Barkha Kumari, Bangalore Mirror

The Wolves of Koppal

Indrajit Ghorpade is a wildlife conservation photographer, and one of his favorite subjects is the elusive Indian Wolf of Koppal district in North Karnataka. In fact, not too many people know that wolves even exist in India…Tiger conservation has been turned into a money-making machine (by the Indian government). Period.” Allow him to add the fact that both tigers and Indian wolves are ‘Schedule 1’ animals under The Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, and, thus, demand the highest level of protection…There are two wolf lineages in our subcontinent – the Peninsular, found across Gujarat, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh for 4,00,000 years, and the Himalayan, found in Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Sikkim, with an evolution history of 8,00,000 years…they are tracking the movements of three adult wolves and three pups in the scrub jungle of Mandalamari with camera traps. Ghorpade is hoping 2017 to be their breakout year, making Koppal the ‘Land of Indian wolves’…Indian wolves here are declining fast, and are practically on the edge of extinction. However, neither he nor Iravatee Majgaonkar from the Centre for Wildlife Studies, Bengaluru, who is working with DCF to study wolves, can give you a count of how many are left. “The Indian Wolf is a neglected animal and no formal large-scale census has been conducted on it. It remains one of the least studied species because of the difficulty associated with counting its numbers; it’s an elusive animal, which can prowl close to 200 sq km of area,” says Majgaonkar. There are rumored to be less than 2,000 wolves in India, according to a DCF report. After the extinction of the Asiatic Cheetah, the Peninsular Indian Wolf has become the apex predator of the grasslands in the Deccan. A grassland is a biome of grasses and shrub trees, which increases the water table, prevents soil erosion, and supports livestock and other biodiversity. Ghorpade highlights the problem, “In our country, grasslands are considered wastelands, and are therefore given away to set up industries. We don’t understand that grasslands, arid regions, and lakes are as important as forests (or croplands). So by protecting wolves, we are also trying to preserve the grasslands.”