The wolf is certainly the emblem of the Silan Upland, the icon that represents numerous municipalities, sports clubs and Sila’s associations.
The wolf (canis lupus), the “king” of predators, is, with human, at the top of the food chain. Belonging to the order of carnivores and to the family of “canidi”, it has a weight that can grow up to 40 kilos in the case of good food’s aviability. Its coat has a variable color depending of the age, the seasons and its habitat. In Sila, normally, it assumes a tawny-brown color with dark shades, similar to a German shepherd dog from which it differs mainly for the cranial form.
The wolf lives between ten and fifteen years, in herds, regulated by strict hierarchical rules even if there are cases of solitary wolfs. It usually lives among the mountain forests feeding on small animals but also attacks larger mammals such as deer and wild boars. In times of scarcity of prey he sometimes arrived to attack the flocks too, attracting the hate of the shepherds who made it as object of a ruthless hunting decimating the population to bring it to the brink of extinction.
Historically, the wolf has been seen as a ravenous and harmful animal and its children’s tales are full of its aggressiveness and malice. In a past, not too far, who could kill a wolf carried the carcass around receiving small prizes and gifts from the population. Because of this systematic persecution, in Italy, a small number of specimens located almost exclusively in Sila remained in Italy.
The definitive disappearance was avoided thanks to campaigns conducted by environmental organizations whose recommendations have been implemented by the authorities with rules that state the wolf as a protected species by prohibiting hunting and providing for severe penalties for offenders. Now, the wolf is back permanently in many parts of the Apennines and the largest rate is found in Sila, the place that allowed him to survive the final extinction.