Interview with Alessia De Lorenzis, researcher and iresponsible of Castel di Guido Reserve for LIPU – BirdLife Italy. Interview was conducted by Mauro Belardi, European Wilderness Society and President of Eliante.
Mauro: Have the photo-traps in the Castel di Guido Reserve reserve that found the wolves near Rome been in the context of some projects or just for hobby?
Alessia De Lorenzis: Despite we are a Natural Reserve and hunting is forbidden, unluckily poaching is a serious problem here, especially on wild boars, using both guns and traps. So, the first photo-trap was placed for surveillance motivations. Before the very first photo on a wolf in 2013 June, the same photo-trap took images of one poacher the same day. Before this photo, we had sporadic news about wolf on the Lazio shoreline area: one poached male in February 2010 and one female victim of a car incident in 2007.
Mauro: Who made the official identification?
Alessia De Lorenzis: Several experts confirmed that the species was a wolf, but of course we made a DNA analysis on excrements for a sure identification: Canis lupus italicus. We called the first wolf, of course: Romolo.
Mauro: What about your emotional reaction when you realized this year you have a wolf pack in the Reserve, in the municipality of Rome?
Alessia De Lorenzis: The first big emotion was after the first identification in 2013. Since that moment we started to dream that one day in the future Romolo would have an own pack. Now in 2017, we have a reproduction and two cubs, so we can say “Yes, the wolf has come back, choosing this land as its home!”
Mauro: What do you think about this trend of wilderness recovering space also in plain and near cities?
Alessia De Lorenzis: The topic is very complex, involving also socio-economic and cultural aspects. Some important local species are strongly related with the cultural landscape and with human traditional work, like farming and pasture. Some of these species are strongly threatened. Abandonment and re-wilding is partially irreversible, but it’s true that we are losing habitats present here since thousands of years. So, I can’t see this trend only positive.
But of course, I am fascinated by the versatility and capacity of adaptation of wolf. This animal is linked to natural forests in mountains in the mind of people, but now it’s re-colonizing the plain after one century, when the wolf was exterminated. Today the plain is completely different from 100 years ago. Despite of this, the wolf has been able to find a partner and breed in a wood just few kilometres from the capital city of Italy!
Mauro: Did you have reactions, positive or negative, from visitors? Do you think this news will bring more or less visitors in the Reserve?
Alessia De Lorenzis: This incredible news, of course, is spreading rapidly around the world, even very far. For the moment, people have an astonished reaction, the facts seem unbelievable to them. We noticed a lot of very good comments and also some alarms… from UK, very strange, since they have no wolves. Probably they are afraid of what they do not know.
The truth is that in 2017 a lot of people are used to talk about the wolf, but very few of them have a minimum idea about this species, especially in the area where the wolf is lacking since generations.
Mauro: Do you have a communication strategy about this topic for visitors and for stakeholders?
Alessia De Lorenzis: LIPU- BirdLife Italy coordinates surveillance and monitoring activities, but we are also working for making citizens of Rome proud of having the wolf. We have a Communication Plan, including social network releases, meetings with local people in Castel di Guido and surrounding, the most difficult challenge is to face breeders and shepherds active around. We are in contact with the competent authorities for damage prevention systems, but we are also searching private donors, eager to do their part in this new chapter of Roma history.
Mauro: Dear Alessia, than k your for this Interview and we are sure, that the Wolves will flourish in the City that was founded by two humans nurtured and raised by a Wolf.
Please also read our posting about the return of Wolves to Rome.
Please follow Mauro on the Facebook Page of Amici del Lupo