Wolf by Garry Marvin

As someone with an ardent love of the environment and an apparently ‘unrealistic’ (not my words) dream of helping reintroduce the wolf back into the UK, this book was a must in order to help me understand more about this wonderful creature and why it has been persecuted with such ferocity for hundreds of years. Although disappointingly short, this book was a delicious little insight into the history of the wolf broke down into interesting segments – Lupophobia, Lupicide, Lupophilia and Rewilding, all accompanied with photographs, wolf propaganda and imagery.

In a nutshell, this book explains the history of the wolf – revered by indigenous peoples of the world, the role model of our ancestors for its remarkable hunting and social skills but with the introduction of domestic livestock and its competition in the interests of humans, its eventual but horrific demonization. Lupophobia ultimately explains that the way the wolf has been portrayed in folklore and the power of the imagination has worsened its image although wolves are doing simply what wolves do – a wolf taking a sheep wasn’t perceived as natural (even when mankind had taken all of its natural food sources…) it was perceived as theft and all too often the ugliest and cruellest on human emotions were wrongly projected onto the wolf – werewolves are a perfect example. Representations of the wolf as far back as the bible are crude, inaccurate and cast the wolf in a bad light but unfortunately it is the ignorance of generations past that have managed to maintain a negative perception of the wolf meaning it was feared, mistreat and destroyed. These fears lead on to the extermination of the wolf across the world – nowhere quite so poignantly as in North America where the natives had managed to live in harmony with the wolf for centuries but the arrival of the colonist and their different agricultural systems which inevitably led to conflict. Fearful of the wilderness around them and bringing with them the age-old wolf perception, the wolf was quickly demonised and then exterminated to near extinction. But as time and science has advanced, the interest in the wolf has only grown but this time, it seems to have evolved into a greater appreciation for such a beautiful and now endangered species. Research into its activities and its social structure have fascinated scientists and have led to people revering this creature that was a part of the increasingly disappearing wilderness which people realised they had to appreciate. But will rewilding be a success when it has turned into no longer a war against the wolf but rather a war between humans over the wolf?

For those wanting to further understand the history of the wolf and to gain an insight into its future, this  book is a must. I would say this book is a must to anyone and everyone; as far as I’m concerned , as a scientist and an educated young woman, there is no place for wolf extermination and hatred anymore. The wolf is an integral part of ecosystems which we have exterminated due to our own ignorance and because we projected human characteristics upon it even though, as mentioned, what a wolf does is wholly natural. Wolf hatred needs to be heartlessly exterminated, as the wolf once was, and never restored. Fantastic little book.

If you enjoyed this, you may also enjoy The Last Wolf by Jim Crumley


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