The Wisdom of Wolves by Elli H. Radinger
Little Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf have no place in this book by Elli H. Radinger. In The Wisdom of Wolves, the German wolf expert draws on her own experiences and numerous observations to describe the world of wild wolves. Radinger braves the icy cold and is very patient to watch her beloved animal. In accessible language she outlines in this book the social manners and behavior of these animals. It also draws some parallels with the lives of us humans. How are we different from wolves? But above all, what do we have in common with them?
Data The wisdom of wolves
The most important features of the book at a glance.
- Number of pages: 287
- Original title: Die Weisheit der Wölfe
- Translation: Davida van Dijke
- Publication date Dutch edition: May 2018
- Publisher: Lev
- ISBN: 9789400509696
Elli H. Radinger
In the early 1990s, Elli H. Radinger gave up her job as an independent attorney to devote herself entirely to studying and writing about wolves. A leap of faith that radically changed the life of the German born in 1951. Never studied biology and armed only with a good dose of enthusiasm, she applied for an internship in the Wolf Park wolf research area in the North American state of Indiana. It was the start of a new career. In 2019 she is one of the most renowned wolf experts in Europe. She shares her knowledge in books, seminars and lectures. She spends a lot of time in the United States studying packs of wild wolves in Yellowstone National Park.
About people and wolves
Without appearing to be pedantic, Radinger knows how to teach a lesson to modern people. Her observations showed that wolves are very social animals who care about their families. The sick are taken in tow, the knowledge of the elderly is valued and the young people learn the wolf life in a playful way. And it is not only the little ones who play, the older animals participate to their heart’s content. Each pack stands or falls with the leadership of the leader pair. You read that correctly. A pack is led by a male and a female animal. The writer plainly states that packs with bullies at the helm invariably come out as losers. She adds that it is rare for ego trippers to take the lead. In the wolf world, leadership is usually characterized by wisdom, communication and playfulness. Whatever you do, never stop playing, suggests Radinger, who regrets that humans have lost this aspect.
Emotions of wolves
Although The Wisdom of Wolves is not fiction, the book reads like a novel. Radinger is therefore not a trained biologist who uses scientific terms. She tells in an easily accessible way what she was able to see for herself during her hours of studies of these fascinating predators. They are the stories that the wolves told her, without words. How the animals mourn the death of a loved one can bring a tear to the reader. How a little flail first makes sure that no one is looking and then performs a rebellious act will undoubtedly bring on a smile.
Interact with other animals
The stories Radinger tells about the wolves among themselves are interesting in themselves. The fact that there is ‘cooperation’ with other animal species, for example for hunting or warning of danger, does not sound illogical either. The writer goes even further by describing how wolves and ravens play together. The cubs romp with the ravens who freely mingle with the pack, pulling tails and ears to their heart’s content. The passage in which Radinger tells of a she-wolf who appears to be mourning a dead raven is particularly fascinating. As the pack moves on, she gently grabs the bird in its mouth and gently pushes it into the snow before covering it further with her paw.
The wolf as a predator
Critics could blame Radinger for writing a book that praises the wolf and leaves the animal’s opponents out in the cold. We must disappoint them. The German expert is also very open about the wolf as a hunter. She describes the hunt and the fate of the prey animals. Unlike most predators that go straight for their victim’s throat, the wolf often goes for the paws. Radinger states that wolves only kill sheep when the animals are unprotected in the meadows. Cattle that graze in a well-protected area and possibly guarded by a mountain dog, will pass them by. It also gives man an important warning. Never feed a wild wolf because that way the animals will associate humans with food. This Directive applies to any animal living in the wild. Like many people, wolves also go for the easy fix when presented to them, Radinger writes.
Belgium and the Netherlands
Radinger spends a lot of time in Yellowstone National Park for her observations and recommends that anyone who wants to see a wolf in the wild should visit this reserve. Wolves also live in the wild in her homeland, but they are not easily spotted. Interestingly, she wrote a chapter about wolves in Belgium and the Netherlands especially for the Dutch edition of De wisdom van wolves. In recent years, the wolf has been on the rise and it will more than likely settle in the Low Countries in the future. She gives tips to farmers to properly secure their pastures with sufficiently strong electric fence wire. At the same time, she advises the authorities to have a well-developed compensation plan in place should things go wrong.
The hiker who regularly visits the woods urges them not to be afraid. The chance is very small that you will bump into a wolf anyway. If it does happen, stop and let the animal continue on its way. The wolf has no interest in humans and does not see him as a prey animal. Enjoy this special experience especially if you are lucky enough to see such an animal in the wild.
The wisdom of wolves is anything but an obvious scientific treatise on the wolf. It is a passionate testimony of a woman who left her life in the legal profession in order to put it at the service of her love of wolves. You notice on almost every page that this was the right decision. The book contains a section with color photos in the middle and a black and white photo is attached to each chapter. Wolves taking a nap in the snow, playing wolves but also wolves on the hunt are portrayed. It gives more than a little extra to this hardcover book that reads very smoothly and can fascinate anyone who is concerned with or curious about the wolf.