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Himalayan wolf discovered to be unique wolf adapted to high altitude life
The Himilayan wolf in its trans-Himilayan habitat in far north-western Nepal, 5000m above sea level.

Findings to inform long-term conservation plans

New research has revealed that the Himalayan wolf – previously thought to be a just another subspecies of grey wolf – is actually a genetically unique type of wolf, characteristically adapted to the harsh life in the high altitudes of Asia.

As a top carnivore in the Asian high altitudes, Himalayan wolves are considered critical to keeping their ecosystems healthy and balanced. But because very little is known about them, research has been minimal and no conservation action has been put in place.

Lead researcher, Dr Geraldine Werhahn from the University of Oxford’s Department of Zoology, says: “When we started out in 2014 it was surprising how little was known about these wolves inhabiting a relatively large region of our planet. At the time the scarce data available was indicating a genetic difference, but we had no explanation for why these wolves are different from a grey wolf.

“Now we know that these wolves are different, from genetics to ecology, and we have an indication of what the reason may be: the evolutionary fitness challenge posed by the low oxygen levels in the extreme high altitudes.

"When we started this research we thought this wolf is found only in the Himalayas, but now we know that they are found in the entire high altitude regions of Asia comprising the habitats of the Himalayas and the Tibetan Plateau.”

The study revealed a great deal about about Himalayan wolves' ecology, behaviour and diet. Researchers found through observing the wolves’ den sites that, in Nepal, Himalayan wolf pack sizes are smaller than usual grey wolf packs. The team also observed exclusive denning behaviour of Himalayan wolves and their pups.

Displacement of prey species in their habitat has left the wolves with little choice but to kill livestock, causing people to kill the wolves in retaliation as livestock is a major livelihood for many local communities.

This was identified as the main conservation threat to Himalayan wolves, along with selling their body parts in the burgeoning illegal wildlife trade.

The findings of this study will help to inform a number of conservation actions for the Himalayan wolf, including protecting wild prey populations and developing sustainable livestock herding practices in order to mitigate depredation conflict.

Findings can also be used as a data basis to formerly recognise the Himalayan wolf, giving it a Latin name which will then facilitate the process of assigning it an IUCN conservation status.

Image (c) Geraldine Werhahn.

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BEVA gives vets access to free membership for three months

News Story 1
 BEVA has announced that it is cutting membership renewal charges for the next three months in order to support all veterinary professionals during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Memberships for all existing BEVA members will be extended until 30 June 2020. Veterinary professionals who are not members of BEVA will also be able to sign up for a free membership until 30 June 2020.

BEVA president Tim Mair said: "In this extraordinary time of global crisis our profession, as with many industries, is under immense pressure. By offering free membership we are giving equine vets easy access to a wealth of supportive resources and online CPD."

To sign up please visit the BEVA website.

Image (c) BEVA. 

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LOVE Gorgie Farm seeking veterinary volunteers

LOVE Gorgie Farm in Edinburgh is looking for people with veterinary and animal care experience, who would be interested in volunteering to help care for its animals during these difficult times.

The community-owned charity farm opened to the public only last month, but decided to close temporarily amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Its three-person team is working to care for the animals behind the scenes and the farm is now operating as a food bank for the public, delivering free breakfasts to local school children.

In an effort to build a contingency plan to secure the welfare of its animals, LOVE Gorgie Farm is looking for volunteers who would be able to step in if any team members fell sick or needed to self-isolate.

Those interested in volunteering are asked to contact gorgie@l-o-v-e.org.uk