Landschap, a Belgian environment group, has reported that a European wolf has been spotted in northern Belgium, in the province of Flanders, for the first time in 100 years.
"The wolf has stayed near the Flemish town of Beringen and the military base at Leopoldsburg. The animal has covered 500 kilometers (310 miles) in 10 days," said Landschap.
According to the tracking system that the animal was equipped with in Dresden when it was just six months old, it’s a female wolf called Naya who has come wandering from Germany, all the way through the Netherlands.
This photo [credit: Hugh Jansman] features Naya having been sedated to put a tracking collar on her.
"The reason TU Dresden is doing this research for Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and the Hunters Association is to study the behaviour of wolves and the interaction with Ungulates, specifically Fallow deer (Dama dama)," said Hugh Jansman from Wageningen Environmental Research group, the Netherlands, in his comments to Sputnik.
He added that the issues tabled in the research were how wolves actually use the habitat, how big their territory is, whether there is a potential conflict with public, hunters, sheep farmers, and so on.
While on the Dutch territory, Naya was also monitored, specifically in terms of her day resting places, prey locations etc., Hugh Jansman added.
Hugh has kindly contributed a tracking map, which shows Naya's trip in full detail:
Interestingly, it is the first record of a wolf in a Belgian location for the past 100 years. Last year scientists revealed evidence that a breeding pack of wolves had settled in Danish west Jutland- the first in the Scandinavian country for 200 years.
Environmentalists say Naya, who will be two in May, is presumably looking for a place to settle to start her own pack.
This has been the latest sign of good old Europe fully engaging into the "rewilding" campaign, first started in 1979 with the adoption of the Bern Convention, which oversaw the protection of predators as "fundamental elements of our natural European heritage."
Wolf found in Belgium for the first time in over 100 years.— Alfons López Tena (@alfonslopeztena) 21 января 2018 г.
In 1979 the Bern Convention decided that wolves are actually a protected species fundamental to "our natural European heritage".
Now, wolf populations are on the up, around 13,000 in Europe.https://t.co/o4vPwYgKhx
Apex predators, including wolves, have been mercilessly hunted for the past few hundred years, as many European farmers increasingly voiced concerns over wolves attacking their livestock, for most part flocks of sheep.
Having previously been pushed out of Western Europe to remote parts of Poland, Romania and the Carpathians, the wolves are now mounting a huge comeback, which is still regarded as dubious by some French and Italian farmers, but warmly welcomed by environmentalists.
Irrespective of most contentious, man-made "rewilding" efforts, one study from 2011 found that, even without human intervention, the chances are that species return to their natural habitat.
The research cited five European carnivore species that succeeding returned to their previous territory with no human involvement. The research focused on the brown bear, Eurasian lynx, wolverine, gray wolf, and golden jackal which were fortunate enough to expand their population naturally.