Linking Animal Behaviour and Wildlife Conservation

(10.10.2017, Hannah Pepe)

Photo: Hannah Pepe Image 1 of 1 Open lightbox

I am now a month into my scientific internship at the WSC and the time has flown by so fast already I can hardly believe it. I love being able to see wolves every day and seeing the trainers work with them. Unlike most of the other students here who study biology, I study Wildlife Conservation in England, but I chose to come to do my work placement at the WSC even though it is not directly related to conservation. For me, studying animal behaviour is an important part of conservation, because you need to understand a species in order to conserve it and to educate people about it. Unfortunately, wolves tend to be misunderstood due to their often negative portrayal in most cultures as being evil killers (for example in fairy tales and movies), and many people fear wolves. Here, research on understanding wolves can really help, as I find people have a tendency to fear what they don’t understand. I think that the acceptance of wolves as they start to re-appear in Europe will play a crucial role to the conservation of European landscapes. Wolves, as all carnivores at the top of the food chain, are very important to maintaining the ecosystem as they act as keystone species and their presence can even change landscapes. The work at the WSC will help increase peoples understanding of wolves, not only through research but by connecting the wolf with the dog “man’s best friend”, and I am grateful to contribute and be a part of it.