Iranian wolf
(Canis lupus pallipes)
گرگ ایرانی

This beautiful and unique animal that is also referred to as the Indian or Asiatic wolf, once ranged from the Middle East across Asia. It is smaller than its counterparts in Northern Europe and America. It stands 66-81 cm. tall at the shoulder, length of body between 100-150 cm. and they weigh between 12 to 80 kg. (Males are larger than females). Their specific signs are: small body size, large ears. Habit of hunting small animals, and the fact that they apparently seldom howl.

The sub-species that lives in Iran have short pale (gray with darker shadows) color with little or no undercoat of fur that helps them to blend into the semi-arid landscape that they call home. It seems that we can find another species (Campestris) in Iran.

Distribution & Range:
The habitat of wolves in Iran includes dense forests, open plains and desert regions. As a result, there are many physical and behavioral differences among individual populations of Iranian wolves. Wolves living in drier, harsher climates show adaptations to their environment such as their small body size, hunting individually or in pairs, and the habit of eating rotting fruits to quench their thirst. Iranian wolf populations living in less harsh climates have larger prey available to hunt and as a result are slightly larger, and hunt in bigger packs.

In Iran, it is seen in most regions (almost 80%) of the country including: Khorasan, Hamedan, Khoy (Mrakan), Zanjan, Kordestan, Tehran and Shiraz (bamu national park). It seems that wolves from Khorasan province are smaller than wolves in Kordestan.

Iranian wolves prey on a variety of animals including Gazelle, hares, mongooses, rats, squirrels, domestic animals, and ground birds such as partridges, quails, jungle fowl and lapwings. They have even been seen hunting animal more than 3 times there own size, like deer, mountain sheep and Wild Boar.

Wolves live in packs of 5-15 and prowl mainly at night. The pack is governed by a dominant pair. Mating occurs during winter and only one female per pack reproduces. Usually 3-5 cubs are born. Both male and female look after cubs until they are 6 months old. Life span of the wolves is between 16-20 years in captivity, and 8-15 in the wild.

Population Decline:
No good estimates exist as to how many wolves might have lived in Iran in the early 1900's. However, researchers are certain that their numbers have decreased dramatically over the last century. It is hard to tell exactly how many wolves remain in the wild areas of Iran, but it seems that their population most be less than 1000. Due to overhunting, the use of poisonous bait, decrease in the number of prey, traps etc., their numbers have decreased to the point that is some regions of Iran they have completely disappeared.

Today, surviving Iranian wolves have retreated to less than desirable lands to escape encroaching human populations. Native prey populations have also decreased alarmingly due to human subsistence hunting. Many wolves in these areas have turned to scavenging and visiting local dumps to avoid starvation. Others have turned to preying on plentiful livestock that they share their habitat with. Only in February 1998 one shepherd from Sarab (east Azarbaijan of Iran) killed 7 starving wolves that attacked his livestock. Villagers who kill the wolves were sentenced to light fines under environmental laws.

Just like the Arabian wolf, the Iranian wolf is threatened by interbreeding with domestic dogs, as well as habitat loss and being killed by humans (It is classified as a game species in Iran and threatened by persecution).

Recovering Iranian Wolves:
Although the range of Canis lupus pallipes crosses the borders of several countries, but it was not never an international effort to protection this animals. In January1977 since the population of wolves in Iran was decreased during the last 10 years as the result of over hunting, Iran protected its wolf population, but it's not clear what happened to this law after the Islamic Revolution since 1979.
Today, some foreign researchers (like WCSRC) are focusing on realistic ways to save the Iranian wolf. They understand that in order to prevent this subspecies from becoming extinct, it will be necessary to work with the local villagers and livestock owners.

Iranian wolves at the WCSRC:
In 1975, a researcher came across four orphaned Iranian wolf pups to WCSRC (Wild Canid Survival and Research Center), located in St. Louis, Missouri . They were found in a cave in Iran after their parents were killed by villagers. The young wolves were raised under the auspices of the Iranian Department of the Environment until they were six months of age. Since 1975 as a result of few zoos having Iranian wolves, efforts for breeding these wolves with other captive Iranian wolves›was ultimately not successful. The WCSRC currently has two male Iranian wolves. Both are old and will not be incorporated into a captive breeding program during their lifetime. The WCSRC is the only facility in the United States that houses Iranian wolves.

Wolves in Iranian history:
Origins of wolves in Iran, back to thousand of years ago and from that time till now, it always has been considers as a harmful animal! . If we divide the history of Iran in two main part of before and after Islam, wolves always have been viewed by Iranians as a threat.
Since so many surviving Iranian wolves are forced to share their habitat and their prey source with villagers, this situation make another tragedy too. The game director of Iran, Rashid Jarnsheed, a U.S. trained biologist, in the book "Big Game Animals of Iran", states that for over a thousand years, wolves have been reported to attack and kill humans. They grow bold in wintertime, when game is scarce, and will enter a town in broad daylight to attack people, with many cases of wolves running off with small children.

News about Wolves in Iran:

  • Dec. 29/1997 - According to AFP report dated Tehran, a starving wolf seized a four-year-old boy in Dushab village near the city of Qazvin, dragged him to the wilderness, and devoured parts of his body. Locals reported seeing increasing numbers of wolves close to the village.
  • Feb. 20/1998 - A shepherd in East Azarbaijan Province was fined Rls, 1.400.000 for killing seven wolves, re-ports said. The case against the shepherd was by the local chapter of the Environmental Protection Organization (EPO) which stated that a person cannot arbitrarily embark on destroying wildlife. The shepherd from Quq village said that a calf in his herd had been killed as a result of an attack by wolves, so he laced the dead animal with poison and used it as a bait to kill the killer wolves.

گالری عکس گرگ های ایران

گرگ تاکسیدرمی شده در موزه حیات وحش زنجان
دو نمونه مختلف گرگ تاکسیدرمی شده در موزه حیات وحش زنجان
گرگ تاکسیدرمی شده در موزه حیات وحش تهران
گرگ تاکسیدرمی شده در موزه حیات وحش

عکسی زیبا از یک گرگ ایرانی - copyright:

گرگ اسیر برای نمایش های خیابانی
شکار گرگ در ادوار گذشته در ایران

مدیر باغ وحش مشهد این ماده گرگ را برای جفت گیری با یک سگ در قفس گذاشته است

دو نمونه مختلف گرگ تاکسیدرمی شده در موزه حیات وحش زنجان

یک ماده گرگ ایرانی بنام آریا - عکس از ایمان امیرصالحی

آریا با سه توله اش - عکس از ایمان امیرصالحی

These 3 puppies were fond in Kerman mountains (October 2002) after their mother was killed by the local people.

The Tehran zoo managers refused to keep these cubs and after some days 2 of them died. The last one is now living in a garden in Kerman but we have no new report about him.


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