Although wolves are some of the most powerful predators in the wild, their numbers are dwindling due to various ecological threats. When these majestic hunters become the hunted, it's time to step in.
It goes without saying that wolves have always been fascinating. Since antiquity, some wolf subspecies have shared their lives with humans, and have lived alongside human hunter-gatherers, primitive farmers, and warriors. Cave paintings have shown early man relying on their wolf-herd for protection. In fact, many beloved dog breeds today are descended from wolf subspecies that are able to project trust and loyalty. In some cultures, wolves hold significant, symbolic status, and are protected, by law, from poaching.
Unfortunately, despite their popularity, many wolf subspecies today are disappearing.
A number of Caninae (the species wolves belong to) subspecies today are slowly decreasing in number and are slowly approaching the endangered status. These threatened wolf subspecies include Mexican gray wolves, the rarest gray wolves in North America, the Ethiopian wolves, of which there are only less than 500 left in the wild, and North American Gray Wolves, which are native to North America.
A Mexican Gray Wolf. Source: EarthJustice.org
Loss of habitat, illegal poaching (wolf pelt is used for fur products), and other environmental factors are three of the main reasons why these majestic wolves are slowly disappearing from our forests. Despite efforts to protect wolves from poachers and from irreversible loss of their homes, wolves are approaching the "endangered" status at a rapid rate.
Rescue and Conservation Efforts for Wolves Continue
All hope is not lost for one of nature's most interesting apex predators. In recent years, rescue and conservation efforts have been picking up. In North America, the population of North American Gray Wolves in zoos and conservation areas are increasing at a moderate rate; late last year, the US Government declared that North American gray wolves will be removed from the endangered list in a year's time. Little information is available for Ethiopian Wolves and Mexican Gray Wolves, but scientists and researchers from all over the world are looking into providing long-term conservation programs for wolves that live in areas which are rarely monitored.
While researchers and conservationists do their thing, here's how wolf-lovers like yourself can show support: