Tracking the big bad wolf in Italy

Last March, The European Safari Company organized a press trip to the Central Apennines, to further spread the word on the amazing opportunities this area has to offer.

With four journalists from The Netherlands, Belgium and the United Kingdom, we were going to track wolves in the snow. An exhilarating, but also slightly scary prospect. Because let’s face it, wolves don’t have the best reputation, consistently playing ‘the bad guy’ in many fairytales, and being portrayed in the media as the slaughterers of white fluffy sheep.

But research from one of our journalists showed the presence of wolves has many benefits, with ecologists believing that reintroducing wolves would create more of a ‘natural’ landscape dotted with different types of habitats for many animals*. 

And, just as important, wolves are very shy animals and rarely show themselves to humans. In the Central Apennines, they have been on the brink of extinction because of man. Sowe would just have to see for ourselves if this big bad wolf really existed.

Our local partner Wildlife Adventures had organized everything perfectly on the ground. We stayed in a lovely hotel in Pescasseroli and were met by our guide Valeria who showed us where we would track wolves over the next few days. She turned out to be incredibly knowledgeable about the area, teaching us about wolf tracks, wolf scats, and pretty much everything else there was to know on the local flora and fauna.

 

Over the next three days, we hiked and snowshoed our way through the area, sleeping a night in the very comfortable Mountain Refuge, still surrounded by metres of snow, which only added to it’s beautiful location in the midst of Abruzzo National Park. But no matter how many tracks we found, and how aware we were of it’s presence in the area, the wolf did not show itself to us. 

 We spoke with local farmers and learnt about how this area is being rewilded and it’s inhabitants – both human and animal – must co-exist. This seems to be going remarkably well and it sure hasn’t impacted the quality of the local cheeses and wine. We’re in Italy after all and the food is nothing short of incredible - every day.

On our last night we are treated to a wolf howling session, where a tape with lone wolf howling is played shortly to determine if there are wolves in the area that will ‘greet’ them by howling as well. Within seconds, the howls on the tape are met by real life howls. Of real wolves. That seem to be only metres away.  

And suddenly spotting this shy and not so big bad wolf with our own eyes is not important at all anymore. Hearing them, surrounded by darkness, is simply magic.

*Read the full article from the Independent here