Hardly any animal is discussed as controversial as the wolf and you often learn that some more wolves have settled down in Germany. I can understand the concerns of citizens and shepherds who have a so-called “problem wolf” in the area, https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wolf but the character and the eyes of this – usually shy animal – have always been fascinating to me. The eye color of the wolf is light yellow to yellow-green and they can see very well at night and during the day. Wolves have a much broader perspective than humans; especially movements the attentive wolf can perceive very well. In my opinion the eyes appear penetrating and focused, somehow magic.
In the Spanish Pyrenees I wanted to experience them a few years ago in the wilderness. Although a few specimens of the genus “canis lupus” were in the vicinity, the search was unsuccessful. They probably have heard us despite of whispers, but we did not see one them on our tour with the ranger (apart from their little “rectal legacies”).
In a French wolf reserve (120 hecta) – the Parc Sainte-Croix in the Lorraine forests (near Rhodes / Saarburg) – it should finally be possible to learn more about these clever animals. In this game reserve you have the opportunity to observe wild animals from shelters and tree houses since several years now. Some of these nature-lodges, like the “hobbit huts”, are built halfway into the earth and are partly comfortable equipped with sauna and fireplace. They have names like “Yellowstone“, “Jack London” or “Trapper Hut”. Almost touching them you are sitting in the room or on an open ground-level terrace behind a large glass front and can leave it to the wolves, whether they approach curiously or not.
We have opted for the variant “tree house” to be able to see and hear the animals naturally from above. It is understood that attracting them with “goodies” and nocturnal descent is prohibited for safety reasons.
Wolves – no matter which breed – occur almost exclusively in groups and are extremely adaptable. The horde or the family association consists of the parents and the descendants of the previous years. Wolves do not become sexually mature until they get two years old. The puppies stay with their family until sexual maturity. The young wolves take care of the pups and sometimes take over helper functions during the hunt. With about two years, these young wolves then migrate and look for their own wolf territory. The wolves can cover many hundreds of kilometers in search of a suitable area and a partner. In general, wolves stay with the same partner for a lifetime.
The wolf-father (alpha-wolf) shows its high social status through local positions, posture, facial expressions and small gestures. When lying, they often prefer a greater individual distance. The A-wolf mother does not have to be the largest and strongest wolf in the herd, but is characterized by her experience, peacefulness and a certain superiority. Fights and aggression among the wolf pack are rather rare and avoided if possible.
After a tour across the grounds and a delicious dinner we are brought back by an electric golf cart to our forest hut. In the lower part – of course fenced area – are the bath and toilet – on the upper platform bedroom and living-room with terrace. The forest is still full of voices, but slowly it is getting quiet, because the day guests have to leave the park at 18.00 o’clock.
The feeding (no hunting for living animals) has started and shortly after the first silhouette can already been seen behind the branches, the first Timber wolf is approaching. Although they are familiar with the terrain and its small streams, only one of them checks the chunks of meat which have been thrown into the enclosure (even the keepers do not enter the terrain to leave the event to nature). The lead wolf sniffs on one piece, then approaches another conspecifics, but both don’t eat yet. Some are almost cuddling together, others are more likely to keep their distance. They obviously know that there is enough food for everyone and therefore all of them finally eat quietly and partly time-shifted (duration of the scenery lasts approx. 30 minutes). Individual animals and a small group of three drag their chunks into a non-visible hollow. Overall, about 10 wolves have appeared “on stage” … goose bump feeling. Unfortunately we can hardly distinguish males and females.
Previously, we had seen five polar wolves romping around a rock elsewhere on our tour. In contrast to the very slim, almost tall-looking Timber wolves, these are more massive, which is probably caused by the white colour and length of fur.
Here and there a short growl, gnashing teeth, some playful bickering. There are also puppies in the pack. Unfortunately, we were not able to see whether they were nursed or received minced meat by their parents.
For quite a while we remained seated with a glass of wine on the terrace and for fun, I cheered out loudly as I suddenly got a kind of single answer from somewhere. When already sleeping in our cosy beds, the great night howl of several groups really started. That’s simply the way the animals communicate with each other. As suddenly as it started, the howling stopped again after about 5-6 minutes. Here is a sound check (thanks to the conservation center): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n-HPRUOKkS8
The wind makes the leaves and branches rustle and even a rain-shower goes down, and at some point we fall asleep softly. It’s almost eight o’clock when we hear some steps climbing up the wooden staircase below us. Our breakfast basket is brought and nicely served. Also our wolf pack was obviously the type of “late risers”, during the morning at least “no tail” could be seen anymore. Never mind ….
Many other animals such as bears, vultures and lemurs live in this resort … just have a look and find out: https://parcsaintecroix.com/en/welcome
Salut & a bientot ….
Another very nice wolf-resort can be visited near Merzig in Germany, close to the Luxemburg border. Entrance is for free, guided tours are offered only once a month or on request. http://www.wolfspark-wernerfreund.de/20oeffnung/oeffnungszeit.html
Remark: No cooperation, just personal experience