The Wolf is the largest Wild Canid world, recalling, in his appearance, a German shepherd dog. However, if you look thinner, with longer members, a more bulky head and elongated, solid-looking, with short, triangular ears and eyes, light-colored fall of oblique form.
Originally, the Wolf distributed by almost the entire northern hemisphere, occupying all types of terrestrial ecosystems, from the desert to the Arctic circle and from sea level to about 3,000 meters above sea level. Currently, its distribution is reduced and fragmented by the persecution which was moved by man. Due to this huge distribution area, the Wolf features wide variations in size and coloration, these being the result of adaptation to the various environments where he lives. An example of this is the weight variation in this species, which, in males, can go from 20 to 80 kg and, in females, 18 to 55 kg, depending on the subspecies involved.
For some, the Wolf that dwells in the Iberian Peninsula is a distinct subspecies from other, styling himself Canis lupus signatus. The overall color of their fur is greyish cream, the subspecific epithet signatus a vertical stripe, which is along the front paws. The weight of the males is around 35 kg, reaching some specimens weighing more than 40 kg, females being lighter, with an average weight around 30 kg. The withers height can pass of 70 cm in males and is, on average, close to 65 cm in females.
The Wolf once existed throughout the country, today reduced just to the North of Portugal, where it occupies an approximate area of 20,000 km2. This area comprises two cores, separated by the river Duero. The core North of the River Douro is constituted by about 55 packs, while in the South the River, if estimates that there are only 10. In all, its population seems to vary between 300 to 450 animals.
The Pack matches the social unit in this species and is a family group. Each pack is comprised, usually, by a pair, player the so-called Alpha pair, and by his descendants. In the northeast of Trás-os-Montes, the packs are formed by the alpha pair, for 2 to 3 individuals from previous litters and by lobachos who were born in that year, varying in size between 3 to 5 animals before farrowing alpha female and 7 to 11 animals after the birth of the lobachos.
Each pack lives in a certain area, that actively defends the entrance of wolves from other packs. This area is called territory. The size of each territory varies from Pack to pack, depending on this variation of abundance and the type of prey that usually hunt. In the northeast of Trás-os-Montes, the packs are small Territories, when compared with those of other parts of the world, varying between 80 and 250 km2. Neighbouring packs may even have territories with very different areas, like being this difference related to the greater or lesser consumption of wild prey. In General, the packs that depend on wild prey more have larger territories.
The territories are not driven equally by the Pack. There are frequently used areas that seem to correspond to areas where the animals usually rest or where they hunt more often. On the other hand, the size of the territory also varies throughout the year, though this variation related to the creation of lobachos. After calving, the movements of the Pack are limited by the need to return, almost daily, to where the lobachos are, whether to bring food to the Alpha Wolf, later, to feed the lobachos.
After a period of about 2 months of gestation, around the end of April or beginning of may, the Alpha Wolf stop the lobachos in a safe place in the territory of the Pack. This location tends to be situated in a very quiet area, with dense vegetation, where Wolf digs a burrow, or just a small depression on the ground, and where the lobachos will be born. At birth, have a dark coat and eyes closed. Around 12 days old, open their eyes and begin to venture out a little around the birthplace. As they grow, will increasingly exploring the surroundings and spend a lot of time playing. All the Wolves of the Pack collaborate in the creation of the lobachos, bringing them food and spending time with them. This time, it is possible to observe wolves youth, with a year and a half to two and a half years of age, watching carefully the jokes of his younger brothers. At around 5 or 6 months of age, the lobachos are already grown enough to begin to follow the rest of the Pack in their travel through their territory.
Although if you think the wolves spend most of their time hunting, that doesn't correspond to reality. In fact, the wolves spend much of the time corresponding to the day period to rest. By nightfall, initiate their activity and then spend a great deal of time with social relationships and eating the remains of previous hunts. Only then begin to traverse its territory, looking for prey, mark it and defend it from other wolves. In these journeys travel per night between 20 to 40 km.
In the northeast of Trás-os-Montes, the main prey of wild Wolf are the wild boar, the Roebuck and deer. In the areas where these animals are scarce, the Wolf sees himself forced to attack domestic animals to survive, such as sheep and goats. The power of each Pack depends essentially of the type and number of existing wild prey in its territory, as well as the way of livestock grazing. A pack that occupies a territory where there is abundance of prey, and where livestock are guarded by a shepherd and Cattle dogs band went, it feeds mainly of wild animals. A pack in which there are few wild prey habitat and where herds are badly kept, without good dogs, or where the shepherds, by lack of good pastures, are obliged to take their flocks to areas of dense vegetation, it feeds almost exclusively to domestic animals.
It is in this last situation o Cão de Gado Transmontano plays a key role, avoiding or alleviating the losses that the Wolf may cause to the herds. In this way, o Cão de Gado contributes decisively to the coexistence of pastoralism and the Wolf in the northeast of Trás-os-Montes, in the wake of the good services rendered by their ancestors, since time immemorial.
In the early 20th century, the subspecies Canis lupus signatus occupied nearly the entire Iberian Peninsula. However, has been experiencing a reduction of both the range and the effective population size of this canid.
In Portugal, the disappearance of the Wolf, particularly in the coastline, it became apparent from 1940. With the dramatic decrease of the area occupied in the 70, the situation of the species deteriorated.
The population of wolves is not continuously distributed throughout its range, on the contrary, this is fragmented with many areas where wolves are disappearing or were exterminated.
The Wolf is a mammal, and is currently the largest Wild Canid.
The species is characterized by a large head, massive aspect, with rigid and triangular ears, relatively short and little pointy. The eyes are frontalizados, oblique, on the snout, and color of Topaz.
The Iberian wolf is from among the subspecies of Wolf, which features smaller dimensions and weight (Withers height-70 cm; weight-25 to 40 kg).
Is characterized by possessing a yellowish-brown coat in the trunk. The muzzle, redhead with intermediate shades between the cinnamon and yellow cinnamon, presents a clearer region, in shades of white, that part obliquely from the throat to the external angle of the eye. The back is marked by a blacklist, that extends from the neck to the tail.
The members are strong and robust, with a colour between Brown and beige internally, and the Brown and ochre, externally. In addition to this exhibit, lengthwise, on the anterior, a blacklist very well defined, which is most visible in winter. The specific restrictive signatus was assigned on the basis of this feature (from Latin signatus-expressive).
The winter coat features tone darker than the coat.
Myths and realities
The conflict between the Man and the Wolf has strong roots to oriundam especially from the medieval period, at which point the Wolf begins to have the connotation of animal devouring malignant of men, women and children. The causes of this attitude seem to originate primarily in the Catholic Church, which used the Wolf as a Satanic symbol, animal that put in question "the flock of God", i.e. humanity. The great religiousness of the medieval people, quickly assimilated this idea, giving the Wolf a mythological and supernatural dimension, expressed in various legends, stories and beliefs, some of them still living today in inhabitants serranos on the Iberian Peninsula.
The reality is quite different, the Wolf is a magnificent animal, part of a harmonious Nature.
"The wolves represent, more than any other animal, wild and free of life that we lost and that currently seek to recover with an eagerness that only increases the artificiality of what we have achieved. They make us feel and see the way we were. " (Preface by Francisco Fonseca in wolves. Collection ")
The economic losses associated with Wolf predation on livestock, increased dark symbolism that the Wolf carries. This situation is the result of mismanagement that man makes of natural resources, which led to the shortage of natural prey of this canid.