THE WHITE WOLVES AND THEIR LIFE IN THE SHADOW OF ICE
“All good things are wild and free.”
-Henry David Thoreau
The snow flakes are falling down from the grey and unfriendly sky. It is cold and the nature doesn’t show the mercy for the rest of the living animals that are walking back and forth, trying to find shelter, before it is too dark, before it is too late. The Island Ellesmere, the Canada northernmost edge, the new universe of life under harsh conditions, the place where white wolves have their freedom and wildness but also responsibility to survive, without being hunted and haunted by people.
The Canadian far away point, the pearl of ice wilderness and the miracle of darkness is known to be one of the most cruelest place on the Earth. This depends a lot on the climate situation and the circulation of the light. We shouldn’t forget that the Ellesmere Island is without sun from the end of October to the end of February. Those winter months are a real challenge for rare animal friends that can deal with the bit of moonlight, in advanced predator way of life, when the temperatures are dropped up to 50°C below zero.
This is not for everyone and the most intelligent species that are used to adapt, they will also survive, more or less. Among them, the crystal white wolves or so called Arctic wolves are on the top of the food chain in this island, able to deal with all what raw nature and wild ecosystem is offering. It is fascinating to follow their dynamic in the winter months, the ability to build companionships, to accept risks and to rise up their families, dens of future. The ghosts of Arctic, the wild wolves are not only the symbol of success of fauna in terrible weather circumstances but also the highlight of animal intelligence that has learnt to shine there where only darkness is.
The polar wolves live and feed on their feet which means that they walk in the area up to 50 km per day, trying to find a food or not to miss it, at least. That is the life of predator, to be aware of the moving around and to trace the target. You never know if you will be successful or you will end up without being fed for the rest of the cold days, weeks. The scientists that have followed Canadian white wolves reported that one traced wolf has been traveling over 6000 km in the 9 months period of time, approximately about the drive distance between Halifax and Vancouver.
The ice wolves do not have the paradise environment to deal with but the unforgiving nature settings, where they must find the way out, cooperating together, as a pack or dying together as the species that didn’t understand the team work. The meaning of wolf pack is very well known and has its ups and downs but we shouldn’t ignore the fact that coldness and darkness even more put the challenge on the final exam for the members of pack. The leading alpha male and female aren’t there to just organise the social network but to give the solutions, provide hunting arena and potential food resources, to find eligible site for creating dens and to ground the safe starting point for offspring. The wolf pack in this case too consists of extended family members, each of them has a specific rule. Even the wolves adolescents that are there to support parents, taking care of the smallest one. The older and more experienced wolves are engaged in the hunting strategy and protection of the pack. The pack could be only as strong as the member itself. Then, there are rival packs and they could do awful things, especially to the most vulnerable part of the packs, pups. The mother wolf knows that when her dens is found by rival packs, she must almost risk her life to protect the babies, when the rest of the pack is not there to help. When the summer is there, wolf pups have more chance to get put and explore the world with their nursing family members. It is exciting to follow the collective spirit of those animals and to learn that they have their social life and requirements of it. They are not just the shadows on the starlight dance but the active participator in the coming pulse of life, when the winter is done.
This island is the tenth largest island in the world but its frozen beauty is attracting the wild explorers and science to jump in and follow the northern star. This place has never been enough researched and there are still so many questions about the life and death, about the past and future. How animals deal with the nature and it’s cold touch ? How wolves adapt to the unadaptive conditions ? How people could learn from animals in order to survive the climate risks ? Many new questions and old answers that are not really brainstorming.
The wolves are not the only earthling that manage this Island. What about glorious muskoxen ? They have such a special art of living, having in mind that their hair allows them to survive Arctic rapid low temperatures. They are the crucial part of polar biodiversity and the Ellesmere Island wouldn’t be the same without those hoofed giants.
It might be that this land is unwelcoming and cruel but the wolves and other brave animals live there and survive for hundred of years, without being poisoned, killed, hunted or terrorised by people. Some wolf researcher from National Geographic that made a documentary about Eureka white ghosts family in Ellesmere Island, wrote that they have never ever experienced the curiosity of wolves in this way. They do not encounter the humans so oft but they do show the interest in people. Their relatives in Idaho, Montana or even in the Europe know the evil nature of the people but Snow White wolves have optimism and believe that humans are some strange residents of the Planet, with confusing habits. They do not feel fear but playful curiosity. The old good naive approach of the animals that have never learnt how people could be and what they are able to commit.
The mission of the journey on this Island, for many explorers, is not just hunger for knowledge and the new discovery of the Arctic wolves life, but the need to experience reconnecting with purity of the ecosystem and wilderness. Without being judged as the human that failed to protect all animals, but rather accepted as the part of the far away family, that need to find the place under the darkness to be able to endure till the moment when the Sun goes up again.