DANCES WITH WOLVES
Nature conservation has always been an enduring passion of ours and plays a big part in our trips, as we take guests to explore and discover the local flora and wildlife in a sustainable way. We also believe that nature protection comes through knowledge and learning, so in our most recent trip to the north of Portugal we went searching for one of the most fantastic and ilusive wild species in the country, the iberian wolf (canis lupus signatus).For many centuries, wolves have dominated over vast areas of the iberian peninsula, and still today they are wrapped in legends and a few myths.
For many centuries, wolves have dominated over vast areas of the iberian peninsula, and still today they are wrapped in magic legends and a few myths. The relationship between wolves and humans has not always been an easy one, with an enduring battle for survival from both sides. In the last few decades, the population of wolves in Portugal has been decreasing to alarming numbers, mainly due to the loss of habitats, lack of wild prey and increasing human pressure. This has lead the authorities to legally protect the species to ensure its conservation.
Having participated in the first LIFE WolFlux Nature Guide training course a few months ago, promoted by Rewilding Portugal and supported by Rewilding Europe and the European Commission, it was time now to go and search for these amazing creatures with a (rather tenuous) hope of eventually seeing one.
After a short walk with the guidance from an experienced nature photographer who knows the area and the species like few, we found a place up in the mountains with some potential signs of presence of this amazing animal: fresh footprints in an almost straight line, excrement with bones and animal hair and the remains of a previous prey. For the experienced guide, it was clear we were in wolf territory!
The vastness of the region with hardly any people, the rugged terrain and the few cattle and goats wondering around the hills searching for pasture lands, create an almost perfect scenario for wolves. Here, they can practice what mother nature has taught them to do for thousands of years.
As the sun went down on this amazing day, darkness and silence took control of time and we went back to the campsite with the impression of a distant howling sound in our minds, coming from the top of the mountains.