Indian Wolf Hunting Blackbuck II

Indian Wolf Hunting Blackbuck. Indian Grey wolf sprinting through the grassland after a young blackbuck antelope. Velavadar National Park, Gujarat, India.

This image was taken during one of the most memorable mornings of wildlife photography I have had in India so far.

As the sun rose over the grassland we spotted a female striped hyena dragging a large blackbuck carcass back to her den. The commotion and scent of blood had attracted the attention of a wolf who waited nearby, not wanting conflict with the larger and more powerful hyena.

After a long struggle the hyena eventually opted to tear up the carcass and carry it back in smaller chunks. The wolf continued tracking her closely. Suddenly out of nowhere a young antelope panicked and split from the herd right next to us! An intense chase followed, with the wolf eventually catching the blackbuck. He then carried it right past us, allowing some fantastic head on portraits.

Seeing the action unfold out of nowhere and so close to us was something I’ll never forget. Experiences like these are why I love wildlife photography so much. You never know what’s going to happen!

Indian Wolf Hunting Blackbuck – About the Indian Wolf:

The Indian wolf (Canis lupus pallipes) is a subspecies of the grey wolf that ranges from Southwest Asia to the Indian Subcontinent. They are found in grasslands, scrubland and open forests and once roamed across the arid and semi-arid regions of the entire Indian peninsula. For the last two centuries wolves have been vilified and persecuted as vermin. Now under serious threat of extinction, the future of the Indian wolf is uncertain.

Rapid deforestation and an ever expanding human population have shrunk the hunting grounds of the Indian wolf, reducing wild prey. As a result, the wolves are forced to prey on livestock, bringing them into direct conflict with humans. Currently less than 3000 Indian grey wolves survive in India, mainly in Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra, and Karnataka. 

Indian wolves lack the dense coat of their European and North American cousins, due to living in much warmer conditions. During the blazing Indian summer heat these wolves have especially short thin fur, except for on their backs which remains long, thought to be an adaptation against solar radiation.

Indian grey wolves are highly social animals living in packs of 6-10 individuals with complex social hierarchies. Typically only the alpha pair will mate and birth a litter of pups, however all members of the pack help in raising the litter and the pups will start moving with the pack after they are around 8 months old. 

These grassland specialists are the primary predators of the graceful blackbuck. Over the millennia blackbucks have evolved amazing speed and agility to cope with the now locally extinct Asiatic cheetah. Now these lanky Indian wolves have to outmanoeuvre and take down these agile antelopes.

Indian wolves are highly territorial and primarily hunt during the night but can also be seen hunting during the day. Each member of the pack will regularly hunt for their own food, however when taking down larger prey such as blackbuck, they hunt in pairs or small groups. They are intelligent hunters and employ complex hunting methods such as one wolf acting as a decoy whilst another attacks from behind.

Indian wolves are carnivores that prey upon a wide variety of animal species. Their varied diet helps to keep animal populations in check, thus benefiting different animal and plant species in their range. A particularly interesting study was done on the effects of this where wolves changed the course of rivers.

You can find more about Indian wolves here

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Indian Wolf Hunting Blackbuck. Indian Grey wolf sprinting through the grassland after a young blackbuck antelope. Velavadar National Park, Gujarat, India.


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