Recently, a picture was circulating on social media in which wolves were shown walking in a row. It was portrayed that last in a row was a group leader while the first and second in a row were muscular and powerful members of the group. It was being told that if the group is attacked then it is always the leader who comes forward and defends the group.
This is not the case. This was a pack consisting of a male and a female pair with their adult offsprings and newborn pups and they were chasing a large prey.
A wolf is an intelligent and efficient predator. It has been placed in Family Canidae and genus Canis. This genus also consists of Jackals and dogs.
A wolf has 3 main species and 40 subspecies.
It is found on every continent except Australia, South America and Antarctica. It likes to dwell in mountains, forests, deserts and bushes and may also be found in open fields. The female forms dens to give birth to its young ones.
Behavior of wolf
Wolf usually communicates through howling. Like human fingerprints, each wolf has a distinct howling pattern. So they can differentiate between other members.
A wolf seems a dangerous beast but in real, it’s a very shy animal and avoids humans. It rarely attacks humans. But a few deaths have been reported from the spread of rabies in humans from wolves. Wolves are highly territorial and use their urine to mark their territories. Other herds are not allowed to intrude these areas. If they do, then wolves show aggression by displaying their sharp teeth.
Wolves cover long distances and usually travel at night. They have a skin which protects them from the extremities of weather. The legs are long and strong. The ears are small and they have a well-developed sense of hearing. They can hear sounds in the range of 25KHz as compared to humans with an audible range of 20khz. Wolves have a strong sense of smell which they use to detect their prey and predators.
Wolves prey in groups. Usually, small animals are killed alone but larger preys are hunt in a group. When wolves hunt, their primary target is larger ungulates, such as moose and elk. Wolves may also eat fruits sometimes.
Wolves have incredibly strong jaws and sharp, two to three inches long canine teeth which are used to puncture and grip their prey. A human’s bite force is 150 square per inch while that of the wolf is 1200 square per inch which is four times to bite force of a dog (psi).
They usually walk but run when they see prey. Their herd crawls into the herd of cattle. They try to catch the weakest animal so that it can be easily hunted. The bigger the prey, the bigger the herd of wolves. Wolves constantly bite and injure the buffalo and then kill and eat it by strangling it. They often enter and hunt sheep and goats from livestock farms.
A wolf is a true monogamous animal and spends its whole life with one female. The female gives birth to 4-6 pups out of which hardly 3 survive. These pups may become the food of Polar bears and lose their lives.
For years, it as considered that wolves and dogs are two separate species. The dog was known as Canis familiaris while the wolf was Canis lupus. However, more recently, scientists generally agree they are both subspecies of Canis lupus. More interestingly, wolves and dogs can reproduce, creating the hybrid known as wolf-dog
Social life of wolves
Wolves live a social life. The group of wolves is called a pack which is related by close blood ties. The leader of the pack is a breeding pair which consists of an Alpha male and an Alpha female. The rest of the pack consists of adult offspring and newborn pups. The entire pack helps to raise newborns and provide them with food and care.
What to do if wolves attack you?
Wolves usually attack humans when they are hungry or in breeding conditions. In this situation don’t run, don’t turn your back, keep calm, don’t stare at wolf, and take your steps back in a slow manner. Don’t look scared or fall. Throw sticks, sand, rocks, and stones at the wolf to scare them. If you find a tree nearby, try to climb as wolves cannot climb trees. Try to get to a group of people as wolves are more likely to attack a lone individual than a group of people.
What is the role of the wolf in the environment?
Look at this example and see how important wolves are for the ecosystem. The Yellow Stone Park in America is a forested area. In 1930s, all wolves were killed in this area. But strangely in the next few years, the population of wild buffalos and deers drastically increased in this area and they wiped out all the flora which ultimately lead to soil erosion۔ Before the things get out of control, U.S has to import wolves again from Canada and were reintroduced in forests. Resultantly, the conditions were improved soon, the new forest grew, and animals which were once disappeared started coming back.
Wolves of Pakistan
The Himalayan region which is connected to Pakistan and Kashmir has Tibetan wolves. Besides this, Indian grey wolves are also found in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan.