• Vadim Sidorovich

Kuz'ma the male wolf, long-term lone survivor

Coauthor: Irina Rotenko

We continue giving non-standard stories about carnivore individuals we learned about in Naliboki Forest by snowtracking and camera-trapping. This story is about a male wolf, which had been living alone all the time and persisting surprisingly long, at least, for 9 years till February of 2017. We called him Kuz'ma. His track trail was easy to find and recognize. He walked all the time slowly, and printed a wavy track trail that looks like one of a lynx. Additionally, Kuz'ma was present more or less continuously in the same small area of 10 to 20 square kilometers within mostly pine stands on barren sand soil. In the very same place two or even three wolf packs bordered. A friend of ours, John Griffith from Liverpool, named Kuz'ma as Slowly-Walking Wolf. Below you will see the best photos of Kuz'ma that were taken in 2012 as well as his typical track trail. Mainly (perhaps, at least, 70% of the time) he kept along the same forest road for 4 km.

Kuz'ma, the Slowly-Walking Wolf with a toy.

Wavy track trail of Kuz'ma that look like one of the lynx

From the photos above you see that the Slowly-Walking Wolf was not small or suppressed one. Let's say Kuz'ma was at average size of an adult male wolf. We did not document any aggressive encounter from other wolves towards Kuz'ma, despite his rather small home range was tensely visited by two or sometimes even three packs. These wolf packs bordered there, so, they marked Kuz'ma's area a lot, but they did not stay or hunt much. Actually, the area of Kuz'ma was rather poor for prey. Main habitat type was pine stand, but also Kuz'ma inhabited about 4 square kilometers of swamped habitats.

Interestingly, what Kuz'ma ate. We did not collected much data on the diet of Slowly Walking Wolf, although we could do that. As far as we have learnt Kuz'ma scavenged a lot for the victims of those wolf packs as well as he predated roe deer himself. Once he killed female red deer in January.

Kuz'ma was a long-term survivor among the local wolves. Wolf packs substituted each other mainly because of their extirpation by hunters, but Kuz'ma lived for long. In February of 2017 the Slowly Walking Wolf had finally disappeared. One of the reasons of his long life was that he stayed alone all the time, and hunters usually avoided to spend much time to hunt only one wolf. At that time in Naliboki Forest there were many wolves, and hunters preferred to get a pack of wolves in their fladry.

It is hard to comment, why Kuz'ma was alone. Actually, we did not find any physical abnormality of him in pictures taken by camera traps or while snowtracking. His slowly walking manner, perhaps, was just a careful walking pattern of a lone wolf only. We think, that was a life choice of him like it happens in humans. Why not? There are people, who stay alone for the whole their lives and do not try to find a partner. That is in humans, but why it can't be one of the life styles in wolves.

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