There are estimated to be between 1,500 and 2,000 wolves in Spain. They can still be found in Jaén and Córdoba provinces in Andalucia.
Photo by Tahoe on Unsplash
The Committee for Spain’s Natural Heritage recently voted to include the Iberian wolf (Canis lupus signatus) on the national list of protected species where it will join the Iberian Lynx and the Cantabrian Brown Bear. It only remains for the Environmental Minister, Teresa Ribera, to approve the listing and the wolf will be protected throughout Spain.
The Iberian or Spanish wolf is a subspecies of the Eurasian wolf distinguished by a white stroke on its cheek.
There are estimated to be between 1,500 and 2,000 wolves in Spain in packs of six or less. The majority of wolf packs that survive in Spain, about 90%, are in the north, in Galicia, Asturias and Castile-León. However, we in Andalucia have a few wolf packs in the north of the region. The northern wolves are fortunate in that hunting wolves north of the Duero river has been banned for some time, whilst those south of the Duero will have to wait for Ribera’s decision. She naturally faces opposition from the farmers who fear for their livestock.
Guides have seen and heard this wolf in the northern parts of the park. Take the road that leads to Solana del Pino. Their footprints have also been found n the road between on the Viñas de Peñallana detour, leading to El Centenillo. El Centenillo is also interesting. It is an abandoned mining village dating to the 19th and early 20th century when there was a great deal of involvement by British companies, but that is another story. Be careful in this park. The Iberian lynx, another protected species, can also be found here and there are designated road crossings for them.
Scene of the famous Battle of Las Navas de Tolosa in 1212, this spectacular natural park is also home to the Iberian wolf. They prey on the abundant fallow and red deer, wild boar and rabbits and shelter in the caves. You may see the wolves at Los Muñecos Cave and in the vicinity of the La Cimbarra Cascade, a beautiful waterfall that is worth the trip even if you see no wolves.
Over in Córdoba province, the Natural Park of Sierra de Cardeña and Montoro is the location of a legend of a child, Manuel Pantoja, who grew up in a wolfpack. He lived with them for 12 years until the police found him. The story inspired a film, ‘Entre Lobos’ that was shot in these mountains. Obejo’s bridge over the river Yeguas is the border leading into wolf territory.
In 2008, packs from this area travelled from the Sierra de Cardeña, slipped through a sparsely populated corridor between Córdoba city and Obejo and ended up between Villaviciosa and Espiel which surprised the locals somewhat. Wolves regularly cover up to 30 kilometres every day.
It is not that long ago that wolves were found in the wilder parts of the south of Andalucia. Almeria is well blessed with feature and place names that include the word ‘lobos’ or a derivative, including Piedra Lobera, a rugged peak in the Alto Almanzora. It is here that the last wolf in Almeria was shot at the end of the 19th century. Perhaps this new protection will allow them to return.