Canis lupus – the grey wolf of our land, the mythical timber wolf of the great North American open spaces – is not the great loner of fables.
It lives an admirably successful life in a pack: a male and a female known as the Alpha form a family unit, along with their offspring from successive litters.
He, with his powerful howl, acute hearing and glowing eyes in the dark, is the undisputed leader of the hunters, and has the honour of being the first to sink his jaws into the prey. But the success of the enterprise depends on the coordinated action of all.
Mrs. Alpha alone procreates, after inhibiting the other females with behavioural mimics and hormone emissions.
The survival of this predator, long hunted by man, depends largely on its amazing ability to disperse. To seek out new territories and adapt to them.
A champion of endurance, guided by an infallible instinct, it can cover up to 60 kilometres a night, trotting elegantly at 7 km/h. And, if need be, it can sprint at 70 km/h.
It is thanks to all these qualities that the most unexpected of events has occurred, in a country that wiped out the species in the 19th century: the wolf has returned naturally to France!
Having set off on an adventure from the Italian Apennines, they now inhabit the Alps and the Pyrenees, and have been spotted in Lozère.
How many are there? Probably a hundred or so. Enough to make us dream of the wild once again.
Packs play. Packs fight, for example over a deer carcass.
And when you want to signal your presence in a territory, you howl, each with a very distinct timbre.
A she-wolf with her litter: the dominant female rests, while a young male shows her his affection. A dominant male receives a submissive lick from another member of the group.
A fantastic sequence: a pack of wolves spots a wounded moose and waits for it to collapse before pouncing on it. The feast is challenged by a brown bear, which they try to chase away with their fangs out.
Opportunist, the wolf pursues the weaker proies.
Scavenger, he sometimes shares his meal with crows.
Artificial intelligence translation of an original text by sciences & avenir
Click here to read the French version