Volume 9, Issue 117, July 2014

SAFHOWL

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

Volume 9, Issue 117, July 2014

From the Editor’s Desk

Attention Please

The face of South African Friends of Wolves’ website has been afforded a new look, and the monthly free E-newsletter will now be posted as a Blog as of this issue. You can find all new and back issues in the Newsletter Archive, and from now on you can subscribe to the Blog posting if you prefer to receive your monthly newsletter from there. If you have already subscribed to SAFHOWL and want us to change your subscription to Blog, please send us an E-mail from the e-mail address you want the newsletter to be sent to and the words “change to Blog” in the subject line.

If you haven’t done so yet, please go to www.safow.org and let us know what you think.

This winter issue is once more full of truly shocking horror news from the US. It appears to emerge that the US Fish & Wildlife Services, a federal agency (!), is being more and more influenced by anti-wolf lobbyists and just do as they are told by them rather than what would be their job. As if this weren’t outrageous enough as such, the almost extinct Red Wolf is now also being shifted into their murderous focus. Read all about it in the news section below. Scandalous, brainless and most of all, disgusting!

It is interesting to read how scientists only now begin to realise things people who have long known wolves have known for an eternity. Wolves communicate with their eyes. Wow. Of course they do.

 We have another modern wolf poem that is worth reading, and Erin must have had a romantic day when she penned her latest account. Nevertheless, it paints a good picture of what it is like at times to live with a pack.

Enjoy this month’s SAFHOWL, and if you live in SA, try and stay warm!

Upcoming Events

The Full Moon Husky Romi Fundraising Event

On 9 August 2014
At The Frog & Toad in Muldersdrift
A fun-day for the whole family:
Drum Circle, Bands, Face Painting, Flea Market, Bonfires and, of course, Wolves and more.
Entrance fee R 80.00
Please spread the word and support this event.

If you are interested in renting a stall please get in contact with Nolia Meyer at nolia@pentasure.ws

News from the Wolf Front

National

Nothing new to report.

International

From Defenders of Wildlife

(http://www.defenders.org)

1. USA: North Carolina: Take Action for Red Wolves

The only remaining population of wild red wolves is making their last stand in the wilds of North Carolina. After a successful re-introduction and breeding program, roughly 100 wild red wolves now occupy the eastern part of the state.

Please tell the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to do its job and redouble efforts to rescue red wolves from extinction in the wild:
http://action.defenders.org/site/R?i=iKaikEUSXf4gzO4UBoqAKw

Red wolves once roamed across the southeastern United States. Today, they are making their last stand in the scrub forests of eastern North Carolina. One of the leading causes of red wolf deaths is gunshot mortality, including from hunters who mistake the small wolves for coyotes.

Even experts have trouble telling the animals apart at a distance. The state increased the risk of red wolves being mistaken for coyotes and accidentally shot, when in 2013 it authorized night hunting of coyotes in red wolf habitat.

Thanks to legal action filed by Defenders and other groups, red wolves won a temporary reprieve, and coyote hunting has been halted in wolf territory. But now, FWS is under increased pressure from anti-wolf groups to walk away from recovery efforts – making it more important than ever for Americans to speak out in support of this critically endangered population.

Tell FWS to stand up for red wolves and continue red wolf recovery efforts:
http://action.defenders.org/site/R?i=XIEB_B6SgzSYXSDmhOfPtw

North Carolina’s red wolves are the last remaining wild population on Earth, and with fewer than 100 left in the wild, they need all the help they can get.

Thanks for all you do for America’s endangered wildlife.

2. USA: Recklessly killing wolves, and proud of it

The agency is called “Wildlife Services.”

It’s about the worst possible name you could imagine for an agency that kills a huge number of animals each year, including wolves, bobcats, mountain lions and coyotes.

Every day, more questions come up about this federal agency’s lethal actions against predators. But instead of being embarrassed by their reckless unjustified killing of wolves and other predators, the Administrator overseeing this agency has publicly proclaimed that he is proud of the lethal work the agency does!

Your urgent donation will help Defenders hold these federal predator exterminators accountable for their actions:
http://action.defenders.org/site/R?i=n2C9LCeepTpCN2ey8xEFeg

Their track record on wolves is a particularly bloody one. From the agency’s own records, an accounting of more than 500 wolves killed in one yearalone reads like something from a bad horror movie:

  • 64 wolves gunned down from helicopters
  • 316 killed in foothold traps
  • 30 killed using neck snares
  • 37 shot from fixed wing aircraft

It gets worse. Last winter, Wildlife Services, hired by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, went into a federally designated wilderness area to shoot 23 wolves … and their excuse was to artificially boost elk populations for big game hunters.

If there are special areas on federal lands where wolves should be safe, it should be in congressionally designated wilderness areas – but for the hired guns from Wildlife Services, it meant nothing.

The agency should be ashamed and held accountable. Will you help us stop the killing today?
http://action.defenders.org/site/R?i=yQu0jVZ0m5OJcohFiQYv5g

A major investigation by reporters at the Sacramento Bee newspaper concluded that the agency’s killing habits are “indiscriminate, at odds with science, inhumane and sometimes illegal.”

Please won’t you help?
http://action.defenders.org/site/R?i=W49IiwrZA2tKaNkLUxGoKg

3. USA: Survey: We want to know what You think

You have been chosen to participate in Defenders of Wildlife’s summer survey.

Won’t you take a few minutes to share your thoughts and feelings about wolves and other urgent wildlife matters?
http://action.defenders.org/site/R?i=EMzB1aeMOVrQAXIkOPQCRw

Your answers will help Defenders represent your wildlife priorities. We are a voice for endangered wildlife – but we are YOUR voice too!

The survey shouldn’t take more than 4 or 5 minutes to complete. Your information will be kept completely confidential.

I know you care. You know what we’re up against. And we truly appreciate your passion and commitment.

Please take the survey now:
http://action.defenders.org/site/R?i=9ohajukJmCL_Kq3avWr1Cg

4. USA: Membership Pending

A war is raging.  And the future of America’s wolves could depend on you.

They are dying by thousands – shot, trapped, gunned down from helicopters, left to die in snares. More than 2,100 wolves, including mothers and helpless pups, have fallen to a slaughter the likes of which we haven’t seen for decades.

I know you care. And we need you now more than ever.

Won’t you join the ranks of our most valued wolf-lovers and become a member today?
http://action.defenders.org/site/R?i=RtCCEU-SVk6sLvUWwpZO-w

As a special thank you, with a gift of $20 or more, we’ll send you a wolf beach towel FREE that features the Defenders of Wildlife logo along with a beautiful color image of a wolf.

There have always been wolf-haters. Driven by fear, greed and superstition, they exterminated wolves by the thousands. By the 1950s, wolves in the Lower 48 were all but extinct.

Twenty years ago, Defenders helped reintroduce wolves to the Northern Rockies. New packs were born. As the 21st century dawned, wolves were making an historic comeback.

But now the wolf-haters are fighting back harder than ever. They’ve declared war on the very wolves we worked so hard to restore to their former habitat.

Your gift will give us the resources we need to fight for wolves wherever and whenever the need arises – won’t you give today?
http://action.defenders.org/site/R?i=1UiPO0nwmKP0idmAPhInWQ

Defenders of Wildlife is America’s leading voice for wolves, panthers, manatees and other imperiled creatures. We are a dedicated team of field scientists, policy experts, wildlife lawyers, lobbyists and advocates with a remarkable track record of success.

But we are only as strong as our base of supporters. People just like you.

A war is raging. Won’t you stand up to defend the defenseless?

Other News

National

From SanWild Wildlife Sanctuary

(sanwild@gnetmail4.co.za)

Savannah Camp Deal

To raise much needed funding for our Rehab centre and animal rescues, we are once again offering an amazing accommodation Special at our Savannah Camp. This time you have a choice of two different deals.

What the deal includes:

Deal 1:

SAVANNAH CAMP

R7000 for two nights for four guests instead of R8360 – Save R1360

Includes:

• Brunch & dinner.
• Teas/coffees.
• Accommodation in a thatched roof chalet with en-suite bathroom, small lounge with DSTV Compact and tea/coffee/Espresso facilities.
• Daily cleaning service.
• Daily game drive.
• Visits to the animal rehab canter & large predator facility.

Deal 2:

SAVANNAH CAMP

R13 500 for two nights for the entire camp (camp can sleep 8 guests) instead of R16 720 – Save R3220

Includes:

• Brunch & dinner.
• Teas/coffees.
• Accommodation in a thatched roof chalet with en-suite bathroom, small lounge with DSTV Compact and tea/coffee/Espresso facilities.
• Daily cleaning service.
• Daily game drive.
• Visits to the animal rehab canter & large predator facility.

Bookings to be booked and paid for within 24 hours after confirmation.
Deal can be bought now and dates confirmed at a later stage.
Bookings valid from now up to 15th December 2014
No refund on specials.

Special ends on the 30th June 2014

To book one of the Deals, please email us at reservations@sanwild.org

Next door

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

ELEPHANTS POISONED  14th July 2014

We have recently heard about 4 elephants that were poisoned with cyanide. The dead elephants were found on the old mine road off the main Kazangula/Victoria Falls Road. Apparently the cyanide was mixed with salt and sprinkled in an area where the elephants eat the salt. We believe National Parks have now burnt the carcasses.

PETITION

A petition has been circulated regarding the take-over of Kanondo by Elisabeth Freeman/Pasalk. The concern is for the Presidential Herd that frequent the area. The petition was signed by 8 000 people, 2 000 of whom were Zimbabweans and handed to Minister Saviour Kasukwere. We believe the petition was ignored due to the fact that a very wealthy tycoon and minister is involved.

FAREWELL TO MAC BAILEY

It is with great sadness and regret that we announce the death of Mac Bailey. For those who were not fortunate enough to know him, he was, amongst other things a great conservationist. It was ironical therefore that he was killed by a crocodile in Kariba.

We wish his wife Jenny and his children our sincere condolences on the loss of a very special man.

Wolves and Wolfdogs

Wolves might use their eyes to talk to each other

It’s nothing new that wolves, foxes, and dogs are all highly social animals and that they have means of communicating with their own kind. We like to interpret the tail wagging, pawing, ear position and yipping, but besides of these rather well known ways of communicating, new research is hinting at the possibility that canids could also use their eyes to communicate.

Japanese researchers have studied pictures of the eyes of almost every canid species, and found that those with highly social pack structures and social hunting behaviors represented the species with easily visible eyes. After having observed the interaction of those species in zoos they found that the ones with the easily visible eyes were also the more social ones. The results were published in a study in PLoS One on 11 June 2014 (A Comparison of Facial Color Pattern and Gazing Behavior in Canid Species Suggests Gaze Communication in Gray Wolves (Canis lupus) by Sayoko Ueda mail, Sayoko Ueda mail, Yusuke Otaki, Shinya Yamaguchi, and Shiro Kohshima; (Article here.)

Zoologist Patricia McConnel of the University of Wisconsin-Madison explained that what this study shows is a correlation between facial markings, sociality and the need to communicate. She is a dog behavior researcher and was not involved in the study.

The Japanese scientists used around a dozen photos of individuals of each species included in this study and organized them according to their facial features into three groups. Then they looked to previous research to characterize the social behavior of each group.

Group A contained species displaying irises much lighter than their pupils, and facial markings that make their eyes clearly visible. This group included species like the Grey wolf, coyote, and golden jackal, and they appeared to more likely live in social groups and hunt as part of a pack.

Group B contained such species in which the facial markings indicated the position of the eyes but with the pupils being invisible; e.g. the maned wolf, dingo and the kit fox. These canids live as singles or bonded pairs and hunt alone.

In group C the eyes of the canids were camouflaged, with no markings either within or around the eyes to mark their position, making them seemingly invisible. Group C was made up mostly by more primitive canid species, like bush dogs, tanukis, and African wild dogs, which also live in social packs, but mostly hunt alone.

To also study their groupings in the “field”, the researches visited Japanese zoos to observe the gazing behavior in one species from each of their groups:

Grey wolves (group A), fennec foxes (group B), and bush dogs (group C).

Although all three species gazed at each other about the same number of times, the wolves held their gazes significantly longer than the foxes or bush dogs. The Grey wolves also did twice as many distinct playful postures as the other two species.

Gaze communication is not a new finding in the animal kingdom, and humans are prime examples for it. Scientists believe that one of the reasons why our irises have a white surrounding is to enable us to pick up on what other people are looking at. If certain canids communicate with gaze, they probably rely mostly on having a high contrast between the iris and the pupil, rather than the white of the eye (sclera).

Patricia McConnell says that canids are big communicators, but we still have a long way to go before we understand all the channels they use. She says that the entire body of a canid is, without question, an information source. However, this study, while it does show a link between gaze and sociability, isn’t conclusive.

One way to take these tests further would be to camouflage the eyes of heavy-gazing canids and watch how it affects their social interactions. And maybe you could be the one to do it. Patricia McConnell says that her field is suffering from a lack of researchers.

For the full article please go to: http://www.wired.com/2014/06/wolves-might-use-their-eyes-to-talk-to-each-other/

 (Editor’s note: whoever has spent time observing wolf behaviour and communication can vouch for them having developed gaze communication into an art.)

Wolf Myths and Legends, Part 105

The Snow Wolf’s Eyes

by Drew Cooper

The full blue moon beams down on my face.
It lights the snow in florescent grace.
I never want to leave this place.
I’ll abandon the hassles of the human race.

It’s calm and quiet where I lay.
There’s not a word that I can say.
The fire’s died down,
There is no light,
to dim out the beauty of this night.

I’m in my sleeping bag trying to keep warm.
Feeling the fabric wrinkled and worn.

I stare out on the landscape in unspeakable wonder.
I stare out into the serene forest tundra.

The ice-icicled limbs of the tree that I lean on,
glistens a gentle white and blue neon.

I gradually look down and I’m startled to see,
two golden eyes staring at me.

What is this creature?
I don’t really know.
but whatever it is blends in with the snow.

I can make out a figure.
Not ten yards away.
It’s a single grey wolf looking for prey.

He slowly creeps closer in a soft, cautious stroll.
As I stare through his eyes and into his soul.

In his mind I see the things that he’s done.
While roaming around in the dim winter’s sun.

I see where he’s going.
I see where he’s been.
The kills of his hunts.
And the cubs in his den.

As he starts to turn slowly away,
I start to wonder: “Did he do the same?”
Had he witnessed my joy and my pain?
Or maybe he just wanted to know why I came.

He’s now swiftly sprinting over the snow-covered field.
I notice him start to slowly yield.

He turns his head.
Looking one last time.
Savouring his brush with humankind.

When I see that he is finally gone,
I look up at the stars and wait until dawn.

 

Readers’ Contribution

A Wolfdog Diary, Part 96

By Erin

Winter got a hard grip on us during the last weeks with temperatures well below 0 during the nights, and the days unpleasantly cold and windy, too. While Ted and I have problems to keep ourselves warm enough to operate our keyboards and save our feet from freezing solid, the kids enjoy this weather to the full. Yes, they also don’t like the nasty wind during the day and will then rather stay inside, but they love the early morning and evening hours. They don’t have much of an understanding for our soccer WC-sleep deprivation, but wake me up at 5 am to open the door for them to get out into the clear, cold pre-dawn. The one morning, it was shortly before the sun came up and we were headed for full moon, it was foggy outside. I had to go to the loo, and all I wanted was to crawl back under my warm winter blankets as soon as possible, but seeing the pack in the waning moonlight and the fog, their breath turning into white clouds, I had to stand in the open door for at least a few minutes to watch and absorb this most beautiful scenery. If it hadn’t been that icy cold I would have run for my camera, but I could not help it and rather ran back to the bedroom before I was frozen solid.

This same morning we had to go out for some business, which the kids don’t like at all. There was still moisture in the air from the fog, and when they started their howling (which they always do when Ted and I go out together), their breath again turned into white clouds – too beautiful for words, and again I wished I would have my camera at hand to get a nice shot of the scene. As much as I hate the cold, and I’m happy that our area only gets a tiny bit of snow every 10 years or so, I wonder on such occasions what it would be like to see them running through a snow-covered garden. I remember when we had lots of small hail one spring that covered the whole lawn with a thick white layer. Una, Shattuck, Ascar, Kia and Kajack I. went wild when they saw it and I opened the door after the weather had calmed down. After a few minutes we saw them trying to stand on two legs only with the other two up in the air because they had started to realize how cold this stuff was. It was hilarious to watch. They didn’t want to come back inside, though, as they were too busy grabbing some of the hail corns with their mouths and throwing them up into the air to watch them falling down and bouncing off the ground. The whole ground had started to steam when the sun had come out again to melt the ice, allowing white clouds to float above the ground, and turning the whole garden into a “winter” wonderland with the pack being the centre point of the scene. I think, with real snow, that picture must be even more impressive. I push the thought and the picture forming in front of my inner eye away quickly – be careful what you wish for, hehe.

Ascar II and Kajack II, now 39 and 32 weeks old, respectively, are like twin brothers. They are extremely close, and although they will have arguments over the one bone or the other toy from time to time, they always sort it out quickly and will be one heart and one soul again. They have become strong and visibly healthy animals, full of energy (and still full of nonsense), and are always on the search for something new to keep them busy. I cannot make a single step without them being hot on my heels, investigating in detail what I’m busy with and trying to find an answer to the most important question – can you eat it? Can you steal it and play with it, or at least rip it apart? Luckily they have developed a habit of hiding some of the toys for a while somewhere in the garden or even bury them, so that when they find them again, it’s like something new to keep them occupied and play-fight over.

Otherwise everything is just fine, with all of us being healthy and waiting for winter to come to an end (well, that goes at least for Ted and me).

… will be continued