Riccardo Raggi is one of seven guides that Casentino Forest Park authorized to interact with wolves. And tonight we’re going with him. This is a real scientific excursion. The data we collect, will be sent to the guards of the State Forestry Corps that every day control and defend the park. Tonight we will experience wolf howling.
The wolf howling in the Park
Wolves live in the park since time-out. Hunted, persecuted and killed for centuries, they are timid animals. Triangular ears, yellow and attentive eyes, a thick coat made of fine hairs that varies from gray to reddish brown. Here is the identikit of this animal that lives for centuries, legends, fables and folk tales.
In Greek mythology, wolf represented Mars and its destroying side. The wolf is the animal that led Odin and the Valkyries in the battlefield. But it is also a symbol of strength and loyalty. Romulus and Remus were saved because they cared for by a she-wolf
Riccardo loves his job. He is a naturalist expert but he also has great sense of humor, like any good man of Romagna. And before leading us to the point, he tells us a short story.
The appointment is at a well-known farm in the area. I knock at the window and enter a large room with fireplace. The cold outside begins to be felt and the welcoming warmth is a healing for my soul. There I meet Lorenza, the owner of the place and her cats.
One is on her lap. Is here the meeting place for the wolf howling? Yes, come in. It ‘a real step back in time. When Romagna families gathered in vigil, in the stables, because it is that it was hot and while the adults were working, grandparents telling the most improbable stories to children, silent and with the nose.
The real Romagna of Lorenza
Wolves live in herds because this is their refuge. A system defined by precise rules that guarantee the survival of the whole group. They walk in the snow, the first marking the time and others stuffing their paws exactly in the footsteps of the leader. In this way, it always seems to be a lone wolf.
Dribs and drabs, the group is coming, adults and children. Dinner in the great hall is rich, tasty and chat is a joy. Everyone knows that it will be a busy night. 45 minutes of walking before arriving at the precise point where we will launch the lure.
It ‘s time to leave. I am dressed like I had to leave for Antarctica and I also have a head pile, bought during my trip to Guatemala.
We walk in a line, trying to do the maximum silence. The moon is full tonight and the trail is partially illuminated.
When we get to the point, Riccardo stops and pulls out a huge megaphone, provided by the Park. There are the recordings of howling.
The megaphone switch on launching a long and piercing cry. We are astonished. Rapt and attentive. We expect that on the other side of the valley, a wolf will hear and answer. Somewhere in the dark.
Usually the call is launched twice at regular intervals because it gives to the wolves a chance to listen, recognize and then respond.
At first launch, nothing happens and even the second. But no one had guaranteed nothing.
A coffee and some cookies that Riccardo pulls out of his very organized and giant backpack and it’s time to go back.
It’s cold and we are tired, and maybe even a bit disappointed but this is nature. Wolves tonight had something else to do. But so it goes!
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