Belgium’s ‘shame’ over likely killing of pregnant wolf
The disappearance — and likely killing — of a pregnant wolf has heaped “shame” on Belgium, which now has just three of the wild canines roaming its forests, environmentalists say.
The wolf, named Naya, was first detected in the northeast province of Limbourg in January 2018 and was fitted with a collar containing a transponder to track her movements.
She was joined in August 2018 by a male companion named August.
But in May this year she was seen for the last time by one of the a network of night-vision cameras operated by the regional nature agency ANB.
Since then, there has been no sign of her or the cubs she had been carrying. And the batteries in her tracking collar have run down.
It was “virtually certain” she was killed, possibly along with the pups, ANB said last weekend.
August, who initially was seen taking food to his Naya “around the end of May, early June … was now acting like a solitary wolf,” ANB spokeswoman Marie-Laure Vanwanseele told AFP.
The Belgian office of the environmental non-governmental organisation WWF said in a statement that “the death of the wolf and her pups is a shame for Belgium.”
It said Naya was the first wolf in more than 100 years to make Belgium its territory.
– Hunters suspected –
Three other wolves have been seen over the past 18 months roaming in and out of the country along forested areas bordering the Netherlands or Germany, according to ANB.
These include August, who was recorded on a camera last weekend.
While suspicions over Naya’s fate have fallen on illegal hunters, including a pair stopped after being spotted by a drone in the prohibited area around the wolves, there was “no proof,” Vanwanseele said.
A local bird protection association has offered a reward of 10,000 euros ($11,000) for information identifying the suspected killers of Naya.
Her disappearance has also alarmed an animal protection society in the neighbouring Netherlands, which said three of the 16 wolves seen in that country over the past four years now also cannot be found.