Wolves officially declared extinct in Andalucia

by Lorraine Williamson
wolves in Spain

SEVILLA – Southern Spanish Andalucia was once home to a thriving wolf population. Now it has the sad honour of reporting the official extinction of this iconic species. 

Conservationists point to habitat loss, poaching and illegal hunting as major causes of this tragic event. Since 2003, the regional government of Andalucia has sought to monitor the local wolf population (Canis lupus signatus) and limit conflict between the animals and local farmers. However, a recent report from the Andalucian government’s environmental department confirms a worrying finding: “Since 2020, there has been no sign of the presence of the wolf in Andalucia.” This is despite the wolf being a protected species. 

Until 2010, there were an estimated six to eight wolf packs in the region. This was mainly in the Sierra Morena, with up to 56 individuals in total. However, experts now indicate that there has been no evidence of wolves in Andalucia since 2013. And probably not even a breeding group since 2003. 

Threats for wolves 

“This is bad news and confirms the negative trend for the few remaining wolf packs in southern Spain,” said Luis Suárez, the conservation coordinator for the World Wildlife Fund in Spain. He emphasises the seriousness of the situation and the threats experienced by the wolves in southern Spain: “They are threatened by physical and genetic isolation from the wolves in the rest of Spain, habitat loss, poaching and illegal hunting.” 

Lack of political will to take action 

Suárez points an accusing finger at the regional government of Andalucia. “The shameful loss of wolves in Andalucia is directly related to the lack of political will to take conservation measures,” he said. According to him, the government had the opportunity to take action for years but has been paralysed by fear of confrontation with the hunting lobby and livestock farmers. 

Cogesa Expats

“No Time for Excuses” 

“Now is the time for the government to take responsibility and get to work to ensure the return of this species to the southern mountains as soon as possible,” he says. “There’s no time for excuses.” 

Spain is home to the largest wolf population in Europe 

Despite this bleak situation in Andalucia, Spain remains home to the largest wolf population in Europe. In the 19th century, there were about 9,000 wolves scattered all over the country. But due to an extermination policy, only a few hundred remained in the 1970s. However, since the 1970s, when poisoning was banned, the species has been slowly recovering. 

According to the official count in 2021, there could be between 2,000-2,500 wolves in 297 packs living in Spain. The tragic event in Andalucia highlights the need for more effective conservation measures in Spain and beyond. It is a painful reminder that the conservation of wild species is not only a moral imperative, but also essential for preserving biodiversity and the health of our ecosystems. 

Read also: Hunting of Iberian wolf immediately banned in Spain 

You may also like