Volume 10, Issue 130, August 2015


The Monthly Free E-Newsletter of South African Friends of Wolves

Volume 10, Issue 130, August 2015

From the Editor’s Desk

What a rare occasion this is: Two news items that are positive. Another wolf has ventured into California, and the US wildlife authority has eventually bowed to law and announced that they will not continue to kill more wolves in two federally protected wildlife reserves in Idaho during the coming winter. Well, I don’t want to spoil the good news, but my suspicion is that they will do something else instead and it’s not gonna be good…

Our Next Door and International sections are, of course, dominated by the senseless demise of Cecil, the Lion, and, connected to the underlying problem, elephant hunting and poaching. A sad state of affair it is when airlines have to take the initiative to curb big-game (what a word is that anyway?) hunting by Americans (and some others, of course) with too much money. Read it all for yourself and form your own opinion.

We have an update on the Golden Wolf that used to be a Jackal and we thank the reader from overseas who submitted it to us.

We found a dramatic wolf fairytale that we share with you, and Erin tells how her truly amazing alpha female figured out all on her own how to help an almost blind pack member. What a caring and clever girl that is!

Enjoy our August newsletter,

News from the Wolf Front


Nothing to report


From Defenders of Wildlife (http://www.defenders.org)

  1. USA: A new wolf in California

For the second time in four years, a gray wolf has ventured into the hills of northern California.

State conservation officials announced yesterday the presence of a lone wolf in California’s Siskiyou County.

This is the second wild wolf known to be in California in nearly a century! In recent years, “wandering-wolf” OR-7 was made famous for several trips into the Golden State. OR-7 has since become the alpha male of the Rogue Pack in Oregon’s southern Cascades – not far from the California border.

OR-7 had been the first known wolf in California since 1924. The presence of this second wild wolf in California is a source of great hope and excitement for the recovery of the species, not just in California, but across the West. We have long known that there is abundant suitable habitat for wolves in California, and it was only a matter of time before they made their way back.

We’ll keep you posted as new information comes to light!

2: USA: A win for Idaho’s wolves

Thanks to you, we can share a rare bit of good news from Idaho.

The Idaho Fish and Game Department has announced that no wolves will be killed in the federally-protected Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness during the winter of 2015-16.

The announcement comes after a lawsuit brought by Defenders and other conservation groups to stop the killing of wolves to boost elk populations in federally-protected wilderness lands like Frank Church Wilderness.

The Frank Church Wilderness is the largest national forest wilderness area in the Lower 48 States and a core habitat for gray wolves in the western United States. I know you share my view that wilderness should be managed as wilderness, not as a game farm for favoured hunters and commercial outfitters.

The state has previously planned to kill up to 60 percent of the wolves living in Frank Church, in large part to artificially inflate elk numbers for hunters. Those wolves can breathe easier for another winter after this latest decision.

Still, it’s important to remember that this reprieve is only temporary and that we must remain vigilant in our efforts to defend wolves in Idaho.

But thanks to you and your support, Defenders will continue to work tirelessly to protect wolves throughout the Lower 48.

Thank you for your compassion and your continued partnership!

From California Wolfcenter

Mexican Wolf Reintroduction Project Monthly Update

Endangered Species Updates July 1st-31st, 2015

The following is a summary of Mexican Wolf Reintroduction Project (Project) activities in the Mexican Wolf Experimental Population Area (MWEPA) in Arizona, including the Fort Apache Indian Reservation (FAIR), and New Mexico. Additional Project information can be obtained by calling (928) 339-4329 or toll free at (888) 459-9653, or by visiting the Arizona Game and Fish Department website at www.azgfd.gov/wolf or by visiting the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service website at www.fws.gov/southwest/es/mexicanwolf. Past updates may be viewed on either website, and interested parties may sign up to receive this update electronically by visiting www.azgfd.gov/signup. This update is a public document and information in it can be used for any purpose. The Reintroduction Project is a multi-agency cooperative effort among the Arizona Game and Fish Department (AGFD), USDA Forest Service (USFS), USDA-Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Wildlife Services (USDA-APHIS WS), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the White Mountain Apache Tribe (WMAT).

To view weekly wolf telemetry flight location information or the 3-month wolf distribution map, please visit www.azgfd.gov/wolf. On the home page, go to the “Wolf Location Information” heading on the right side of the page near the top and scroll to the specific location information you seek.

Please report any wolf sightings or suspected livestock depredations to: (928) 339-4329 or toll free at (888) 459-9653. To report incidents of take or harassment of wolves, please call the AGFD 24-hour dispatch (Operation Game Thief) at (800) 352-0700.

Numbering System: Mexican wolves are given an identification number recorded in an official studbook that tracks their history. Capital letters (M = Male, F = Female) preceding the number indicate adult animals 24 months or older. Lower case letters (m = male, f = female) indicate wolves younger than 24 months or pups. The capital letter “A” preceding the letter and number indicate breeding wolves.

Definitions: A “wolf pack” is defined as two or more wolves that maintain an established territory. In the event that one of the two alpha (dominant) wolves dies, the remaining alpha wolf, regardless of pack size, retains the pack status. The packs referenced in this update contain at least one wolf with a radio telemetry collar attached to it. The Interagency Field Team (IFT) recognizes that wolves without radio telemetry collars may also form packs. If the IFT confirms that wolves are associating with each other and are resident within the same home range, they will be referenced as a pack.


At the end of July 2015 the wild Mexican wolf population consisted of 46 wolves with functional radio collars dispersed among 20 packs and three single wolves. Members of the IFT have begun obtaining pup counts this month and have so far counted 31 pups produced by 8 packs in the MWEPA.


Bluestem Pack (collared AF1042, m1331, f1333, m1382, m1404, and f1405)

In July, the Bluestem Pack continued to use their traditional territory in the central portion of the ASNF. Bluestem wolves f1333, m1382, m1404 and f1405 have been located in the vicinity of the den during the month. Wolf m1331 has been located separate from the Bluestem Pack throughout July.

Elk Horn Pack (collared AF1294 and M1342)

In July, the Elk Horn Pack continued to make broad movements within their traditional territory in the northeast portion of the ASNF. Visuals on the pack have not revealed the presence of pups.

Hawks Nest Pack (collared AM1038, AF1280 and m1383)

In July, the Hawks Nest Pack was located within their traditional territory in the north central portion of the ASNF. The Hawks Nest Pack continued to demonstrate denning behaviour in July and three pups were sighted with the pack near their rendezvous site.

Hoodoo Pack (collared M1290)

In July, M1290 remained localized in the north-central portion of the ASNF. Based on this localization and howling documented from a pup, the IFT is attempting to determine whether M1290 is tending to a den and pups.

Marble Pack (F1340)

The IFT continued to document a male wolf with a non-functional radio collar travelling with F1340 in the northwest-central portion of the ASNF. F1340 continued to display denning behaviour during July. The IFT has begun trapping efforts on the Marble Pack in an attempt to replace the non-functional radio collar on the wolf travelling with F1340.

Maverick Pack (collared AM1183 and AF1291)

During July, the Maverick Pack travelled within their traditional territory both on the FAIR and ASNF. The IFT has not documented denning behaviour from the Maverick Pack this year.

Panther Creek Pack (F1339 and M1394)

The IFT has documented denning behaviour from the Panther Creek Pack. This pack consists of two adult wolves and has been located in the east-central portion of the ASNF throughout July.

Rim Pack (AF1305)

In July, AF1305 has remained in the traditional Rim Pack territory in the central portion of the ASNF.

Single M1161 (Collared)

In July, M1161 was located travelling in the east-central portion of the ASNF.

Bear Wallow Pack (m1338 and f1335)

In July the Bear Wallow pack consisting of m1338 and f1335 became an official pack after having been located together for three consecutive months. The pack has been utilizing the east-central portion of the ASNF. This newly formed pack has not demonstrated denning behaviour in 2015.


Tsay o Ah Pack (collared M1343 and AF1283)

During July, the Tsay o Ah Pack was located on the FAIR.


Coronado Pack (collared AM1051)

In July, the IFT located AM1051 in the Gila Wilderness.

Dark Canyon Pack (collared AM992, AF923, M1293, m1354 and m1347)

In July, the IFT located this pack within its traditional territory in the west-central portion of the GNF. The IFT continues to document denning behaviour in this pack during the month.

Fox Mountain Pack (collared m1396)

In July, the IFT documented the Fox Mountain Pack within their traditional territory in the northwest portion of the GNF.

Iron Creek Pack (collared AM1240 and AF1278)

In July, the Iron Creek Pack continued to utilize their territory in the northern portion of the Gila Wilderness and the southern portion of the Gila National Forest. The IFT continues to document denning behaviour in this pack during the month.

Lava Pack (collared M1285 and F1295)

In July, the Lava Pack was located in its traditional territory in the northwest portion of the Gila Wilderness. The IFT has documented pups produced by the Lava pack this month but has not obtained an accurate count. Two diversionary food caches have been maintained to potentially prevent livestock depredations by the Lava Pack.

Luna Pack (collared AM1155, AF1115, and m1398)

In July, AM1155 remained in the Luna Pack territory in the north-central portion of the GNF. The IFT documented pup presence with the Luna pack this month, despite the fact that no denning behaviour was documented or observed. AM1155 and m1398 have been documented travelling together and separate at different times during the month of July. The IFT suspects that the collar on AF1115 has failed.

Mangas Pack (collared M1296)

M1296 was not located during July.

Prieto Pack (collared AM1387, AF1251, m1386 and f1392)

In July, the Prieto Pack was located within their traditional territory in the north-central portion of the GNF. The IFT continues to document denning behaviour in this pack during the month.

San Mateo Pack (collared AF903 and M1345)

During July, the San Mateo Pack was located within their traditional territory in the north-east portion of the GNF. The IFT documented one pup travelling with the San Mateo Pack in late-July.

Willow Springs Pack (collared AM1185, f1390 and f1397)

Throughout July, the IFT located the Willow Springs Pack in their traditional territory in the north central portion of the GNF.

M1284 (collared)

Wolf M1284 was located once in July northwest of Lookout Mountain.

m1350 (collared)

Throughout July, m1350 travelled within the GNF in New Mexico and was located in the Willow Springs and Luna pack territories periodically.


No mortalities were documented during July.


During July, there were 2 livestock depredation reports involving wolves and 2 nuisance reports.

On July 2, the IFT received a report of a wolf chasing livestock in New Mexico. The incident was recorded as a nuisance report.

On July 10, Wildlife Services investigated three dead calves near Crescent Lake in Arizona. The calves died of unknown causes.

On July 23, Wildlife Services investigated a dead calf on private property in New Mexico. The investigation determined the calf was killed by a bear.

On July 27 the IFT received a report of 2 wolves harassing 2 domestic dogs and a single person on a horse in Mimbres, New Mexico. The IFT investigated the report and found sign of wolves at the incident location. The IFT remained in the area and searched for additional wolf sign, but did not find anything suggesting recent wolf activity. The IFT set up three trail cameras and will continue to try and document wolf activity in the area.


On July 30, the IFT gave a presentation on the revised experimental population to the Arizona Game and Fish Departments CAT-1 wildlife attack response team.


No significant activity to report.


The USFWS is offering a reward of up to $10,000; the AGFD Operation Game Thief is offering a reward of up to $1,000. A variety of non-governmental organizations and private individuals have pledged an additional $46,000 for a total reward amount of up to $58,000, depending on the information provided.

Individuals with information they believe may be helpful are urged to call one of the following agencies: USFWS special agents in Mesa, Arizona, at (480) 967-7900, in Alpine, Arizona, at (928) 339-4232, or in Albuquerque, New Mexico, at (505) 346-7828; the WMAT at (928) 338-1023 or (928) 338-4385; AGFD Operation Game Thief at (800) 352-0700; or NMDGF Operation Game Thief at(800) 432-4263. Killing a Mexican wolf is a violation of the Federal Endangered Species Act and can result in criminal penalties of up to $50,000, and/or not more than one year in jail, and/or a civil penalty of up to $25,000.

Other News


Nothing to report

Next Door

From Johnny Rodrigues, Chairman for Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force (www.zctfofficialsite.org)

  1. ZCTF Report 28th July 2015


We have just discovered the identity of the killer of Cecil the lion. His details are as follows:


Passport no: 445469954

Address: 11413 Larding Road, Eden Prairie MN 55347, USA.

This would suggest that he is American and not Spanish as we previously stated.

On or about the 6th July 2015, Walter James Palmer was taken to Hwange National Park by professional hunter Theo Bronkhorst. They went hunting at night with a spotlight and they spotted Cecil. They tied a dead animal to their vehicle to lure Cecil out of the park and they scented an area about half a kilometre from the park. Mr Palmer shot Cecil with a bow and arrow but this shot didn’t kill him. They tracked him down and found him 40 hours later when they shot him with a gun. They found that he was fitted with a GPS collar because he was being studied by the Hwange Lion Research, funded by Oxford University so they tried to destroy the collar but failed because it was found.

Cecil was skinned and beheaded. We don’t know the whereabouts of the head. Walter Palmer apparently paid USD 50,000 for the kill and we assume Theo Bronkhorst received this money. Cecil, who was known all over the world would have earned millions of dollars just from sightseeing. There was apparently no quota or licence for a lion to be killed in this area.

The saddest part of all is that now that Cecil is dead, the next lion in the hierarchy, Jericho will most likely kill all Cecil’s cubs so that he can insert his own bloodline into the females. This is standard procedure for lions.


Please find attached a press statement from the Zimbabwe National Parks. We would like to sincerely thank them for taking this stance.


Ladies and gentlemen I make this statement with great sadness following the loss of an iconic attraction Cecil, the lion which we had successfully managed to look after both in terms of conservation and protection from a cub to a fully grown lion of 13 years. This is a lion we have been using for the purposes of research to monitor its movement patterns within the range of Hwange National Park and its surrounding areas.

The Government of Zimbabwe through the Parks and Wildlife Act Chapter 20:14 is mandated to manage and conserve wildlife in the country. This function is exercised through the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority, whose main mandate is to conserve Zimbabwe’s wildlife heritage by ensuring that there is sustainable utilization of the natural resources. The Authority is charged with the responsibility to administer and regulate hunting, carry out anti-poaching operations, carry out outreach programmes, manage human-wildlife conflicts, undertake research and to monitor programmes.

Trophy hunting in Zimbabwe can be conducted in safari areas, private land and CAMPFIRE areas and is regulated through the Parks and Wildlife Act Chapter 20:14. Hunting quotas are therefore allocated on a sustainable basis using scientifically proven methodologies on the wildlife populations available. Area specific hunting quotas and permits are issued out to land owners on an annual basis. Each hunting permit specifies the species, numbers and sexes of animals to be hunted in specific hunting areas. Trophy hunting is done and supervised by qualified professional hunters whose licenses are issued by the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority and can be withdrawn in the event of breaching any hunting laws and regulations.

There are two forms of wildlife utilization, i.e. consumptive and non-consumptive. Consumptive utilization is done in specific hunting areas for example safari areas such as Chewore, Chete and Matetsi. Non-consumptive utilization is done in strictly non-hunting areas for example national parks such as Hwange National Park, which was home to Cecil and his pride.

Ladies and gentlemen, on the 7th of July 2015 after receiving a tip-off, our law enforcement officers immediately started investigating the matter and discovered that on the 1st of July 2015, this lion was illegally killed by Dr Walter Palmer, a United States of America national and Theo Bronkhorst, a professional hunter with Bushman Safaris on Antoinette farm in Gwayi River Conservancy. The lion had a fitted GPS satellite collar as part of current research efforts being done in Hwange National Park and its surrounding areas. The lion was well known and regularly sighted by tourists.

Mr Honest Trymore Ndlovu, owner of Antoinette farm, was issued with a hunting quota for 2015 which excluded lions. Antoinette Farm is located in Gwayi River Conservancy in the Hwange Rural District and is adjacent to Hwange National Park. The professional hunter is alleged to have connived with the Antoinette land owner to kill the lion. The incident came to the attention of the Authority on the 7th of July 2015 through an informer. This was followed by an investigation which clearly demonstrated that the illegal killing was deliberate. Firstly the land owner was not allocated a lion on his hunting quota for 2015. Secondly, the use of a bow and an arrow was meant to conceal the illegal hunt by using a means that would not alert the rangers on patrol.

Execution of the illegal hunt violated a number of provisions of the Parks and Wildlife Act.

  • The professional hunter violated Section 66 of the Act which regulates the manner in which trophy hunts are conducted.
  • Both the client, Dr Palmer and the professional hunter violated Section 123 of the Act which controls the use of bow and arrow for hunting.
  • The client also violated the Act through financing an illegal hunt.
  • The land owner violated Section 59 of the Act which controls hunting on private land in that he allowed a hunt to be conduct without quota and necessary permit.

From investigations carried out so far it shows that the whole poaching event was properly orchestrated and well financed to make sure that it succeeds. The professional hunter, client and land owner were therefore all engaged in poaching of the lion.

As we frantically try to protect our wildlife from organized gangs such as this one, there are people who command respect in the society such as Dr Walter James Palmer, a well known dentist and Theo Bronkhorst, an experienced licensed professional hunter who can connive to undermine Zimbabwean laws, international laws and CITES regulations. One can conclude with confidence that Dr Palmer being an American citizen had a well orchestrated agenda which would tarnish the image of Zimbabwe and further strain the relationship between Zimbabwe and the USA. This must be condemned in the strongest possible terms by all genuine animal loving conservationists who believe in sustainable utilization of natural resources.

I take this opportunity, therefore to appeal to all conservationists, animal lovers and all institutions interested in the protection of wildlife biodiversity to come forward and assist the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority with resources to undertake its mandate effectively in areas such as game water management, anti-poaching, road and fire guard maintenance, and transport. It is important that we all ensure that the Parks and Wildlife Management Authority is adequately resourced to conserve and protect our biodiversity from organized international poaching as happened in this case. Failure to adequately resource the Parks and Wildlife Management Authority can easily subject our anti-poaching units to temptation from those offering huge financial rewards for illegal activities.

Lastly let me thank our law enforcement agencies who upon receiving information of the illegal hunt acted swiftly and apprehended the locally based poachers who are now facing the wrath of law but unfortunately it was too late to apprehend the foreign poacher as he had already absconded to his country of origin. We are appealing to the responsible authorities for his extradition to Zimbabwe so that he be made accountable for his illegal actions.

I thank you.

  1. ZCTF Report 2nd August 2015


I would like to sincerely apologise for my last report where I stated that Jericho had been killed. I have now discovered that he is alive and well. The cubs are also doing well.

Yesterday, I received a phone call from a journalist who had just been to Hwange National Park. He told me that Jericho had been killed. I was completely devastated by this news and I tried to confirm it. I tried to phone the research centre in Hwange but I couldn’t get through. I eventually got through to one of the wardens in Hwange who confirmed to me that Jericho had been killed. A couple of other people also confirmed the story.

I released the information only to find out that it was not true. I don’t know why I was given this story and I feel very embarrassed about it. Bear in mind, I live 900km away from Hwange so I couldn’t go and check for myself so I had to trust the people on the ground.

Apparently, an illegal hunt did take place yesterday and a lion was allegedly killed but it wasn’t Jericho. It was a case of mistaken identity. I am trying to get more information on the details of that hunt, if indeed it did take place. A man has been arrested in connection with this.

Despite this terrible mistake I made, some good has come out of the whole scenario. Yesterday, National Parks released a statement to say that all hunting of lion, leopard and elephant has been banned in Hwange National Park area. All I am trying to achieve is to get CITES to classify endangered animals such as lion, elephant, leopard and rhino as class 1, which means they may not be hunted or traded in.

Once again, please accept my apologies. We have received a few very rude emails and I would appeal to the public to please try and understand the position I am in here. I am risking my life by reporting what is going on here. This is why nobody else does it.

From enca News (http://www.enca.com)

Botswana’s Government outraged over killing of Cecil the lion

The Government of Botswana made it clear on Friday that sport hunters would not be welcome in its country as it lamented the killing of Zimbabwe’s Cecil the lion by American dentist Walter James Palmer.

Government spokesperson Jeff Ramsay said sports hunting had been banned in Botswana and last year the government had also moved to ensure that Botswana’s lions and other large carnivores were not exported to South Africa or any other country for so-called “canned hunting”.

Ramsay said his government had learnt with deep concern about the killing of the collared and protected lion which it understood had been lured from Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park:

“We commend the concerned authorities for acting swiftly and arresting the culprits,” Ramsay said in a statement. “We remain hopeful that they will all be prosecuted for carrying out this unjustified act.

“It is our stern belief that safari hunting of threatened species such as lions has the potential to undermine our regional anti-poaching efforts as it encourages illegal trade which in turn promotes poaching.

“To this end, individuals partaking in such sport hunting expeditions will not be welcome in Botswana.”

Ramsay clarified his statement in an interview by saying that sports hunting had been banned.

“Last year we also moved to close any loopholes in the export of our lions etc. for canned hunting in your country (South Africa) or elsewhere.”

He referred to a statement of the Botswana Ministry of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism which said: “Botswana is opposed to ‘canned hunting’, the practice in which large carnivores such as lions or other wildlife species are raised in captivity and hunted in small camps with no room for escape or to elude the hunter.”

“These animals are often raised in inhumane conditions in close contact with humans. The Government of Botswana is committed to conserving our biodiversity; large carnivores included, and does not tolerate cruelty to our wildlife in any form.”

“Efforts are underway to strengthen legislation to ensure that this abhorrent and unethical practice does not find its way into Botswana under any guise. Botswana will closely scrutinise all requests to export wildlife to any destination.”

Asked to confirm that all sport hunting was banned in Botswana, Ramsay said: “We are not giving out any licences for sport hunting here. The only avenue for potential abuse would be on game farms, but yes, sport hunting is effectively banned.”


From Defenders of Wildlife (http://www.defenders.org)

Tanzania/USA: Help stop Elephant extinction in its tracks!

If you love elephants, this will break your heart.

Reports have just come in showing that Tanzania, once the African elephant capital of the world, has lost two-thirds of its elephants to poachers in just four years.

“I had never seen anything like that – there were carcasses everywhere,” reported one observer.

Can you imagine a world without elephants? That’s where we’re headed if we don’t act with the greatest possible urgency.

Your emergency donation to Defenders will help us fight for elephants and other imperilled wildlife:

Make a donation of $30 or more, and we’ll send you our brand new “Stop Extinction in Its Tracks” bumper sticker, free. This sticker will show your support and help bring attention to this critically important issue!

You might be surprised to know that the United States is the second largest importer of illegal ivory in the world. The Obama Administration has taken some important steps to block illegal ivory imports and sales. But at the same time, the powerful National Rifle Association (NRA) and its cronies are pressuring in Congress to make it easier to import ivory and other elephant “trophies.” It’s almost too shocking to believe.

As Americans, you and I must do our part to end the demand for ivory, stop the importation of illegal blood ivory into the U.S. and aid the elephant nations in their efforts to end the killing.

An elephant is ruthlessly killed for its ivory tusks roughly every 15 minutes. Unless we act now to stop it, both Asian and African elephants will continue to slide towards extinction.

Please help today:

URGENT: Tell airlines to stop carrying imperilled wildlife “trophies”

The reckless trophy hunting of imperilled wildlife in Africa has to stop.

One way of fighting this is to demand that all international passenger and cargo airlines refuse to accept African big game trophies of imperilled species as cargo.

The good news is that many foreign and domestic carriers, including Delta, United, and American Airlines have pledged not to carry imperilled big game trophies of animals such as elephants, rhinos, lions, and leopards. The bad news is not all airlines have made the same commitment.

Take action! Demand that all international air carriers refuse to ship imperiled big game trophies, effective immediately:

The heartbreaking tale of Cecil the lion, killed in Zimbabwe, has aroused worldwide outrage. At a time when large animals like lions and elephants face huge challenges to their survival, the kinds of abuses that led to Cecil’s death cannot be tolerated.

Particularly at risk are the imperilled big game African animals favoured by trophy hunters: elephants, lions, rhinos and leopards. Rhinos are in dire shape, and with the surge in poaching, elephants are not far behind. Lions and leopards are also victims of habitat loss, indiscriminate hunting, and other pressures.

If the airlines won’t carry the trophies home, the big game hunters are far less likely to kill these animals in the first place.

Tell the airlines: keep Africa’s imperilled animals safe and on the ground!

Wolves and Wolfdogs

The wolf in the golden Jackal coat

He looks like the European Golden Jackal, but in fact it is a species in its own right: the African Golden Wolf.

You might remember that we reported about the discovery of a new African wolf species quite a while ago, but now it is official, and the “child” got its name. It was suspected for nearly 200 years, but only now a genetic study by Klaus-Peter Koepfli and his team from the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Washington D.C. brought certainty: Besides the Ethiopian Wolf, Canis simensis, there is another wolf species living in Africa; the African Golden Wolf, Canis anthus. Until now he was regarded as a subspecies of the Common Jackal (as Canis aureus anthus). This re-classification raises the number of canids from 35 to 36 species.

At a first glance, the European Jackal and the Gold Wolf are similar in both their looks and behaviour, but the latter have sharper and stronger teeth, longer ears and a higher forehead, which was why they were considered a subspecies of the former until now.

But the comparison of the complete genome of the species with Grey Wolf, Coyote and Eurasian Jackal now revealed distinct differences: according to the researchers, the Gold Wolf is more closely related to the Grey Wolves and Coyotes than to the Common Jackal. Both lines have split at least one million years ago, most likely owing their similar looks and behaviour to convergent evolution: The diet of both species contains less meat and they are rather omnivorous compared to the Grey Wolf. The reason for that could be that they have stronger competition from other carnivorous animal species in Africa and Asia. It is estimated that the distribution range of the newly validated species ranges through the whole of North Africa to Kenya, which means that the population is likely not threatened at present.

Original source: Spectrum.de, by Daniel Lingenhöhl, submitted by Birgit Rödder, translated here from German and edited.

Wolf Myths and Legends, Part 118

The Boy and the Wolves, or the Broken Promise

Once upon a time an Indian hunter built himself a house in the middle of a great forest, far away from his tribe, for his heart was gentle and kind, and he was weary of the treachery and cruel deeds of those who had been his friends. So he left them, and took his wife and three children, and they journeyed on until they found a spot near to a clear stream, where they began to cut down trees, and to make ready their wigwam. For many years they lived peacefully and happily in this sheltered place, never leaving it except to hunt the wild animals, which served them both for food and clothes. At last, however, the strong man felt sick, and before long he knew he must die.

He gathered his family round him, and said his last words to them. “You, my wife, the companion of my days, will follow me ere many moons have waned to the island of the blest. But for you, oh my children, whose lives have but newly begun, the wickedness, unkindness, and ingratitude from which I fled are before you. Yet I shall go hence in peace, my children, if you will promise always to love each other, and never to forsake your youngest brother.”

“Never!” they replied, holding out their hands. And the hunter died content.

Scarcely eight moons had passed when, just as he had said, the wife went forth, and followed her husband; but before leaving her children she bade the two elder ones think of their promise never to forsake the younger, for he was a child, and weak. And while the snow lay thick upon the ground, they tended him and cherished him; but when the earth showed green again, the heart of the young man stirred within him, and he longed to see the wigwams of the village where his father’s youth was spent.

Therefore he opened all his heart to his sister, who answered, “My brother, I understand your longing for our fellow-men, whom here we cannot see. But remember our father’s words. Shall we not seek our own pleasures, and forget the little one?”

But he would not listen, and, making no reply, he took his bow and arrows and left the hut. The snows fell and melted, yet he never returned; and at last the heart of the girl grew cold and hard, and her little boy became a burden in her eyes, till one day she spoke thus to him, “See, there is food for many days to come. Stay here within the shelter of the hut. I go to seek our brother, and when I have found him I shall return hither.”

But when, after hard journeying, she reached the village where her brother dwelt, and saw that he had a wife and was happy, and when she, too, was sought by a young brave, then she also forgot the boy alone in the forest, and thought only of her husband.

Now as soon as the little boy had eaten all the food that his sister had left him, he went out into the woods, and gathered berries and dug up roots, and while the sun shone he was contented and had his fill. But when the snows began and the wind howled, then his stomach felt empty and his limbs cold, and he hid in trees all the night, and only crept out to eat what the wolves had left behind. And by-and-by, having no other friends, he sought their company, and sat by while they devoured their prey, and they grew to know him, and gave him food. And without them he would have died in the snow.

But at last the snows melted, and the ice upon the great lake, and as the wolves went down to the shore, the boy went after them. And it happened one day that his big brother was fishing in his canoe near the shore, and he heard the voice of a child singing in the Indian tone —

`My brother, my brother!

I am becoming a wolf,

I am becoming a wolf!’

And when he had so sung he howled as wolves howl. Then the heart of the elder sunk, and he hastened towards him, crying, `Brother, little brother, come to me;’ but he, being half a wolf, only continued his song. And the louder the elder called him, “Brother, little brother, come to me,” the swifter he fled after his brothers the wolves, and the heavier grew his skin, till, with a long howl, he vanished into the depths of the forest.

So, with shame and anguish in his soul, the elder brother went back to his village, and, with his sister, mourned the little boy and the broken promise till the end of his life.

Readers’ Contribution

A Wolfdog Diary

By Erin

Remember, I told you about Aqua’s vision problem? He is still doing quite fine during the day when there is bright daylight, but it seems that he has real problems in the dark. Inside, with artificial light, he still finds his way about, although it seems that he cannot judge distances properly and will bump his nose on a cupboard or other furniture from time to time. We presume that he can still see large objects if the contrast is great enough, but probably only with one eye.

I guess it was because of this handicap that he had become rather quiet and inactive, and because he doesn’t like the noses of the others to come too close to his face (we suspect that he cannot recognize things being too close to his face) he also stayed out of their activities, turning into sort of a loner. When the others offered him to join their games he would start growling and turn his back on them. At times, Taima had enough of his grumpiness, or so it seemed, and pushed him around by pushing her nose in his side, growling at him. Although being about twice her body volume, Aqua mostly reacted rather scared to this and tried to get away from her, which resulted in her chasing after him and him bumping into everything in his way until he would stop and roll on his back to signal defeat. We could not really understand what that behaviour was supposed to mean and were concerned that earlier or later it would end in a real fight with the possibility of the others joining in and causing him serious injuries. It was especially bad when Ted and I had been out and came home again. Usually, all of them would come to the gate to greet us und could not wait for me to unlock the house for them to get in and inspect our shopping. Now, when Aqua wanted to come to the gate, too, Taima would chase him back to the house, and when he insisted on coming back she started what we saw as a brief fight with him. The same would happen when one of the others started their typical alarm bark because something was going on in the street and he wanted to come out to the front to also “have a look”; she would chase him back into the house and make sure that he stayed there until the “danger” had walked past.

Slowly but surely we got the idea that Taima’s behaviour might have nothing to do with aggression but rather with her wanting to protect Aqua from anything that could be a threat to him because he could not see properly. We now started to watch the two more closely and got the impression that they had not figured out yet what the other had in mind, and that this was causing some tension between them.

Then, suddenly, there must have been sort of an understanding on both sides: the one day we came home from shopping and I saw that Taima was again “ordering” Aqua to stay back. This time, however, he complied, and when I had unlocked the gate, only Ascar II and Kajack II were there to greet me; Taima and Aqua were nowhere to be seen. After I had also unlocked the house and went out the back to help Ted unload the car, I saw the big gate leading to the driveway standing open (Ted habitually leaves it open until the car is unloaded and he can drive it back to the carport) and Aqua standing in the driveway looking in our direction. Taima came running to us to say hello, but then turned around and rushed back to Aqua. “Watch this!” Ted said to me. Taima walked next to Aqua who now also wanted to come back to the house, guiding him by gently pushing her nose in his left or right side of the head, quickly changing sides behind him, depending on which direction she wanted him to take. She clearly indicated which way he must take, and he responded to her gentle nuzzling so that she could successfully guide him around every obstacle he might otherwise run into. She even went and blocked his path when he was to stop. He responded perfectly, accepting and trusting her guidance.

When Ted had arrived at this gate with the car and got out to open it, Aqua had been standing at the closed gate with Taima on his side, and when Ted opened the gate she led him out into the driveway, making sure he would not run into the slowly rolling car. We were completely amazed by this sudden harmony between these two and the way Taima was safely guiding Aqua as though he would be on a lead. Now it was clear what she had wanted him to understand and respond to all the time. And since the front of the property, facing the street, seems to be a rather scary part of our place, we now leave the backdoor open in the evenings instead of the frontdoor, so that Aqua will be in no “danger” when he goes out in the dark, always with Taima on his side to make sure he cannot get lost and will find his way back to the house. Last time we came home from shopping he ran up and down the driveway, play-chasing Taima in a display of fun of movement. He behaved like a puppy and so much enjoyed the game, and we did not tire watching them. He has developed lots of new self-confidence in the process, and is now an active member of the pack once more. And all this is thanks to a very clever young lady who did not give up on a handicapped member of her pack, but figured out – all on her own – a way of bringing him back and make life easier for him. It’s so amazing that after all these years we have shared with these animals, they still manage to surprise us and teach us new lessons.

Will be continued…