“There lies a tingling in their bones, as the campers in the woods huddle together around the bonfire, listening to the wind cry as it flows through the branches above. For they keep turning and watching the short distance beyond the fires light, towards the trees, searching for the eyes that they know are watching them now. The eyes of the unseen hunter!” – Spirit of Fear
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There is perhaps no creature on Earth, more wrongfully stigmatized than the Wolf. From popular culture to ancient folklore, Wolves are depicted as beasts of darkness that have an insatiable appetite for human flesh. Further, contemporary mediums through novels that include White Fang to movies such as The Grey and Wolf as well as scores of horror films, have portrayed these animals in a less than favourable light. Even children’s stories such Little Red Riding Hood, The Three LittlePigs, The Boy Who Cried Wolf, Peter and the Wolf and The Wolf and the Seven Young Goats depict Wolves as the ultimate forest villains, whose intent is to kill solely for pleasure while also instilling enormous fear into their victims. A Wolf’s howl in particular, is used to show the ominous threat that awaits those who dare to venture into the forbidden areas or are simply caught unaware. Coupled with this, is the stereotyped horror image of the popular Werewolf creature, who appears only during a full moon. This further conjures up an even dark view of this animal.
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But if we were to look a little more closely, we would see that the Wolf is really not so bad after all. Scientific study by National Geographic, WWF as well as other independent wildlife funded research of these creatures, for over half a century, have revealed that Wolves are nowhere close to being the marauders we have thought of them as. If anything, they are shy creatures and like all animals, hunt only for their packs food requirements. There is a gentleness to them and a caring family system that is continuously nurtured by the elders. Additional scientific studies show that Wolves will go to great lengths to try and avoid any human contact. Furthermore, like any animal that is either being threatened or is badly injured, will a provoked response be seen to occur. But having said so, there is no evidence to support any claims that Wolves view people as their ultimate source of food and more so, prefer human flesh to that of forest deer, buffalo or wild pig.
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Wolves raised in captivity haven’t shown any signs of abnormal or unwarranted violent aggression. If anything, they are often placid and various conservationists around the world have gone on record to say they have never seen an unprovoked situation occur, where a Wolf or the whole pack turned on them for no reason. But despite knowing the truth, people still fear Wolves and view them with more suspicion than they would with any other carnivore such as Tigers, Lions, Jaguars and Leopards. Therefore, the question still stands that if Wolves are gentle and normal animals, why are they one of the most feared, if not the most? For many people, the night is considered to be a disturbing time, primarily because our eyesight becomes severely limited and we become less aware of what’s around us. As the Wolf is an excellent nocturnal hunter and a creature so comfortable with the blackness of the night, its howl coupled with the images we have been fed for so many years, has made the prejudiced view in our minds virtually unshakeable. However, it is important that we develop a better understanding of these creatures on our own and act towards advancing their protection, as the Wolf population around the world has dwindled alarmingly, due to poaching and domestic livestock protection. If we continue to let the accelerated killings happen, then indeed, there would be a total collapse of fragile ecosystems around the world, which would affect us in the long run. Hence, the choice right now is to act or if we don't and let Wolves become extinct then maybe some of us could boldly say “Who’s afraid of the big bad Wolf?” Next Take please!