One wolfs quest to find his Juliette!

Greetings everybody, 

In the year of 2011, a single male wolf entered one of the most amazing ‘lone wolf’ migrations. Covering a distance of 2000km, Slavc left the homelands of Slovenia to Italy via the Austrian Alps. Hubert Potočnik a biologist managed to track Slavcs perilous journey fraught with unfavourable weather conditions, very wide rivers and human settlements via a tracking device that gave Slavcs coordinates.
Meet Slavc!

The beginning:

Not one estranged from travelling alone, Slavc spent his early years navigating his home territory, exploring what the forests of the furthest part of his territory offered him, even going as far as Croatia. Then, 19th December 2011, Slavc went further than Humbert had seen before. Slavc had crossed two major motorways far outside his home territory, he crossed using an oviduct of the first one and the second via a 150 metre long viaduct.
Clever wolfy!

As Slavc continued on his journey, Hubert became distressed as Slavcs most recent GPS co-ordinates showed that Slavc was in someones back yard. A backyard that was in the middle of a small town called Vipava. With every passing minute, tensions rose as they began to think that Slavcs journey had come to a premature end. However, Hubert’s wory was misplaced as Slavcs co-ordinates showed that he was on the move again, moving further and further from the small town of Vipava.
It was clear that Slavc was engaged to his journey no matter where it led him. From one close human encounter to the next Slavc found himself in the forests that bordered the Ljubljana International Airport. He had resided there for three days and then moved through an open area and up into the Alps.
Such an amazing journey attracted the attention of Huberts colleagues in Austria and Italy. All were concerned with Slavcs path through human environments and together attmepted to reduce the risks of Slavc being poached. They began spreading the word of Slavc and his perilous journey with what seemed to have no apparent destination.

Ain’t no mountain high enough… Ain’t no river wide enough, to keep me from getting to you.

Obstacles for Slavc did not solely arise from our human world, but also from that of the natural world. During his journey, Slavc was faced with the widest part of the
Drava river, spanning 280 metres wide. Slavcs co-ordinates
revealed that Slav crossed it and made it safely to the opposite side. It was now February, the weather was not on Slavcs side, he was facing snow that was an estimated 6 metres deep and passed through a valley that had its lowest passing point at a staggering 2,600 metres high. Yet he continued on and passed through the valley and into the borders of Italy.

Starcrossed lovers:

Slavc’s tracker Hubert may not have known it, but Slavc’s journey was coming towards its end. Slavc was finally in Italy, he made his way past the Lessinia National Regional Park, and towards the north of Verona. His coordinates suggested that Slavc initially  sought out three wolves that were kept in a private animal park, upon failure of entry, Slavc U turned. Jokes were made about Slavc having travelled all this way to find a girl as a wolf sighting had been reported in the Lessinia National Regional Park.

It was April. when what was previously joked about became reality. Slavc had met a female, the female wolf that was spotted before in the Lessinia National Regional Park. The sighting of the two together were confirmed by the Park Manager. When recalling all of the obstacles that Slavc had faced in his harrowing journey in search for what was ultimately his life partner, the female was named Juliette.

As not to forget about Juliette, she also must have travelled a fair distance to the Lessinia National Regional Park  as a wolf had not been spotted there for 100 years. Both Slavc and Juliette went searching for a new place, and in a cute way, were searching for the other.

For the first time in recorded history a wolf from the Balkans had partnered with a wolf from the Alpines.  Slavcs journey offered Hubert and his colleagues a unique insight into the lives of wolves.
Slavc and Juliette have offered a massive win for the conservation of Europes large predators!
For the full interview click here

Conservation of Europe’s Big Three:

Slavc is one of 4,000 wolves occupying the Balkan peninsula, a statement that would  thought to be false 20 years ago. But no longer! despite Europe being one of the most urbanised and farmed continent it is now the proud home of Europe's big three: 

12,000 Wolves

17,000 Brown bears

9,000 Eurasian Lynx

The 1970’s marked a big step forwards in the conservation of our large predators. Environmental movements, raised the public's awareness on how our predators were in trouble, the response triggered the enforcement of protection laws for Europe's big three. Interestingly, the second world war gave the predators an additional spark of hope, a change in land use for reforestation projects gave rise to a ‘prey boom’.  

Suddenly the additional protection, the sympathy and understanding of the public along side the injection of prey sources led to our big three being able to establish populations.

The restoration of our Big Three Predators has been a largely uncelebrated victory for European conservation. But a conflict that runs throughout our history is beginning to resurface. Can we live in harmony with predators?

Rising tensions:

Wolves have the biggest impact on a farmers livelihood, compared to its Lynx and Bear counterpart. Estimates have suggested that between 50,000 and 100,000 domestic livestock (particularly sheep) are killed each year by the presence of these predators. The economics of this situation quickly builds, governments pay out millions of euros in compensation each year in order to counteract the adverse effects of predators.
In a bid to reduce these costs they have encouraged farmers to take up novel methods of protection namely fences and guard dogs. However, farmers are not keen on the labour costs of guard dogs or the upkeep of such fences, and for those that own farms in mountainous regions fences are largely unpractical.
Growing tensions, agitated farmers and impatient hunters led to the creation of the EU ‘Platform on the Coexistence between People and Large Carnivores’ in order to promote dialogue between the major stakeholders of Europes predators futures.

“The trick is to bring together the environmentalists, the biologists, the hunters and the farmers and get them to talk.”
-Garry Marvin, University of Roehampton.

We have throughly enjoyed telling you about Slavc's journey into finding his Juliette and happy to inform all of you guys on the state of Europe's big three! Though there is still work to be done we remain optimistic!
over and out!

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