Elli Radinger has been observing wild wolves for over 25 years. This wolf expert shares with us her discoveries on the intelligence of these animals, and their ability to devote themselves to others, even if it means sacrificing their own life. She proves wrong everything we have heard about wolves since our childhood and reveals unknown facts on their life and behaviour. The myth of the big bad wolf, agressive and solitary, is completely untrue. If you love nature, animals and adventures, this book is for you!
Wolves and family
Wolves are very sociable. They don’t live alone, they live in packs, that is to say in a community, with their family. Packs are on average composed of twelve individuals (sometimes a lot more). The pack goes hunting together to be able to catch bigger animals. Wolves feed on game: deers, wild boars, chamois, mouflons, roes, hares, field mice, fishes… They adapt their diet according to what they find. Family is very important to them and they would do anything for their family. Their life is composed of numerous rituals: waking up, returning from the hunt…
The cubs are educated by their parents, but also by the rest of the family. The father and the elders go hunting and bring food back to the mother who breastfeeds her cubs. The youngest quickly learn to recognise their strong points and spontaneously participate in the activities they are the best at, for the well-being of their family. They are united, each member of the family helps the others.
They communicate with each other through howling and games. Wolves are very playful, at all ages. The youngest always end up bringing the elders into their boisterous games. Playing is a way to communicate and practice, where everyone has to respect codes and respect the rules of the group. For example, the cubs learn to control the strength with which they bite their peers while playing. Adults play roles, pretending to be submissive, allowing the young ones to fight an older and stronger wolf and to defeat them, just like human parents do with their kids when they let them win.
Wolves and Men
In France, wolves have been part of the protected species since 1990, when France signed the Berne convention. This convention has protected wolves in Europe since 1979.
Obviously, it conflicts with sheperds who need to protect their herds. The only efficient ways to protect them are the indispensable presence of the sheperds with their herds, good sheepdogs, and electric fences. The herds respect the fences and they do not try to escape. Plus, they feel safe in their fields, predators being unable to go past the fences.
Sheep have to be put in big runs. A wolf will eat the first killed, but if the run is too small, the wolf will be bothered by the panic-stricken sheep running around them, as that would be stirring up their predator’s instinct. The damages would then be even more important.
Wolves only eat what their parents taught them to eat. In Germany, they only eat deers and wild boars. As long as they haven’t tasted sheep or calves they are not interested in them. Using that principle, a sheperd found the solution : he let a pack of wolves settle near his sheep. One day, one of them tested the electric fence and concluded that it bites. He warned his family and no wolf ever killed the sheep. Besides, these wolves protect the territory and prevent other packs from coming close. The sheep are protected by the wolves.
Wolves are more alike men than monkeys: wolves will always take care of their peer if they are sick, old, or injured, and they will bring them food, whereas monkeys only do this for the young ones. Wolves are a source of inspiration for us humans.
Scientists worry about the exctinction of numerous species. It’s about time we learn about them, respect, and protect them. We need animals!
An extract from the book:
Wolves feel grief. When a member of the family dies or disappears, they look for them, feel disoriented, sometimes agressive, and they howl their sorrow for a long time.
To put it in a nutshell, this book is fascinating and very instructive. It reminds me of its equivalent about trees, Peter Wohlleben’s The Secret Life of Trees, which is just as captivating.
Speaking of, Peter Wohlleben said this about The Wisdom of Wolves:
“One of the most intelligent and perceptive books about nature that I know – in my next life I’d like to be a wolf!”