A wolf’s journey.

Yet another positive sign.

Hot on the heels of yesterday’s post The power of hope comes this wonderful story about the increasing population of wolves in Europe.  I can’t recall what led me to the item in the UK’s Guardian newspaper but this is what I read:

Incredible journey: one wolf’s migration across Europe

Slavc is a wolf. In 2011, he began an epic 2,000 kilometre migration across Europe from Slovenia to Italy via the Austrian Alps. Several months earlier, he had been fitted with a collar that allowed his movements to be tracked in incredible detail. I talked to Hubert Potočnik, the biologist whose work made this possible.

Henry Nichollstheguardian.com, Friday 8 August 2014 02.05 EDT

It has been estimated that there are now around 10,000 wolves in Europe. Photograph: tbkmedia.de/Alamy
It has been estimated that there are now around 10,000 wolves in Europe. Photograph: tbkmedia.de/Alamy

Every year, Hubert Potočnik and his colleagues at the University of Ljubljana in Slovenia capture and collar a number of wolves in order to get a handle on the movements of these much-misunderstood creatures. In July 2011, he collared a young male that became known as Slavc. In June, I spoke to Potočnik for a feature that appears in New Scientist this week and he told me about Slavc’s extraordinary journey across Europe. What follows is an edited transcript of the interview …

HN: After you captured and collared Slavc in July 2011, he stayed with his pack for several months. Then, on 19 December 2011, he began to move. How did you know?

HP: We knew something was different because the GPS points showed that he had crossed two large motorways far outside of his natural territory.

Tell me about these collars. How do they work?

The collar is equipped with three types of different technology. It has a GPS receiver, a GSM modem to send SMS and also with a VHF radio transmitter as a back-up. We programme all our wolves to send a GPS signal every three hours, so we get about seven locations a day to give us continuous location sampling data.

Hubert Potočnik fits Slavc with the collar in July 2011, a device that will reveal the wolf’s incredible 2000-km migration from Slovenia to Italy. Photograph: Nina Ražen
Hubert Potočnik fits Slavc with the collar in July 2011, a device that will reveal the wolf’s incredible 2000-km migration from Slovenia to Italy. Photograph: Nina Ražen

To read the rest of this fascinating article then you will need to go here.  Please do so as the article is breathtakingly interesting. It closes, thus:

HN: How would you sum up this experience?

There are lots of data about long-distance dispersal of wolves but there are very few cases where we have had the opportunity to follow an animal in such detail. Following Slavc across Europe offered a rare insight into the secret life of the wolf. It was one of the most amazing events in my life.

A quick web search came across this short but wonderful video; albeit without sound.

Published on Aug 26, 2013
Two wolf cubs were documented in Lessinia Regional Nature Park on August 7, 2013. At the end of the video it is possible to partially see an adult wolf, the mother of the cubs, that was recognized as Giulietta. Giulietta and Slavc became famous because they brought together two wolf populations that were separated for over 150 years. Wolf Slavc originates from the Dinaric-Balkan wolf population and was collared in Slovenia. He travelled over 1500km over Austria to Italy, where he met Giulietta, originating from the wolf population from the western Alps (Piemonte region).

source: Parco Naturale Regionalle Della Lessinia

12 thoughts on “A wolf’s journey.

  1. It shows that nature likes to spread outwards, which is a lesson that GM scientists have still to learn.


  2. I met once a wolf in the Alps, soon before sunset, face to face. He was in full hot pursuit of a chamois that had grazed me. An incredible encounter. She (He?) was an extremely large canid, with enormous fluffy red-brown hair, and yellow eyes that seemed animated by a simian like intelligence. I had no fear whatsoever, because I could read his extremely intelligent mind. Had it been a dog that large, I would have been very afraid.


    1. I remember you mentioning this before, about meeting a wolf. But if it had been a large dog and you had showed no fear you would have been fine. Dogs, who are the direct descendants of wolves, have the ability clearly to read the mind of man.


      1. Yes, well. I have been bitten by dogs I did not know twice, once in Bolivia above 5,000 meters, once in the USA. Each time they came unseen, and silently from behind, and I was caught by total surprise.
        I knew four geologists who, armed with hammers, had to fight to death a pack of dogs gone wild. In Iran.
        Thus, the notion of dogs as four legged angels does not come down easy with me, until I remember Satan was a fallen angel.
        Anybody reading papers diligently fall across cases of children killed by dogs.


  3. This sounds an epic journey Paul and love that the Wolf is making a come back…. We humans think we know so much, and yet know so little… The Wolf is part of the balance the world needs and I am so thankful that he is breeding and moving such distances… Shows me that He will survive .. Love Wolf as you know.. 🙂


  4. I am not trying to say dogs are always bad, far from it. I had several beloved dogs myself. But, as a runner in the mountains, when I see a dog from afar, I prepare for combat (and then don’t get bitten).


    1. Patrice, in answer to both your comments, and thank you for them, is that without being a witness to the events in question, it is impossible to speak other than in general terms. Clearly, without being in possession of the facts that can only come from witnessing such events, one can only speak generally. Dogs in the wild naturally live in packs, of around 50 animals. Re the geologists in Iran, without the facts of the case, facts that could only come from being a witness, the hearsay is utterly unreliable.

      In your own case, anyone running past a dog in the wild would send out a ‘chase me’ signal to a feral or wild dog.

      But giving a feral or a wild dog the chance to assess an approaching human, and given that human being skilful in approaching a wild dog, then the chances of at attack by the dog on the human is minute.

      Thus your impression that not all dogs are bad is diametrically opposite to the truth.


      1. It’s true I said “that not all dogs are bad”, as I had several beloved dogs. I fail to see how it “is diametrically opposite to the truth”.


  5. BTW, I also have some experience with African Wild Dogs (Lycaons). Truth about dogs? They are extremely dangerous predators, it’s best to be on their good side. A wild dog may get on an attack mode from more than a mile away. In Bolivia, I adopted the dog of the Italian ambassador, who had the habit to charge and attack lamas from as far as the eye could see.


    1. Thanks Patrice. We’ll just have to agree to disagree on this. Like all animals, they are effective predators, but as a generalisation that is incorrect. Perhaps one day I could share the research with you.


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