Iberian Wolf

Expedition

Expedition outline

This Iberian Wolf Expedition will take you to Montesinho Natural Park, northeast Portugal (Vinhais municipality), right next to the Spanish border. Our project is included in the Portuguese Wolf National Census, but it is not restricted to it. The scientific project behind this expedition is part of a major conservation project. Together with Vinhais Biologic Park team, we started a monitoring program, that aims not only this iconic top predator but also their main wild prey. Working with local communities, is also a key aspect of the project, as it helps mitigate the Human-wildlife conflict. Join us and experience the day-to-day job of a conservation biologist. Feel the passion, the challenges and the reward of working for a better world.

Prices

Full trip (7 days) - 1645€

5 days option - 1275€

3 days option - 870€

The prices shown excludes flights and transportation to and from the expedition meeting point.

Dates

23-29 February 2020

26 April - 2 May 2020

11-18 July 2020

29 August - 5 September 2020

24-31 October 2020

All expeditions need a minimum of 6 participants to happen.

Expedition program

Detailed information about this expedition

Typical Program

7 days program

5 days program

3 days program

Day 1

  • Introduction to the Expedition

  • Wolf scientific project

  • Methods & techniques

  • First walking transect

  • Night survey

Day 2

  • Line surveys at Coroa Mountain

  • Camera traps setting/pickup

Day 3

  • Data analysis (cameras)

  • Attend to local traditions

  • Closure session & return trip*

* for the 3 day travelers

Day 4

  • Line surveys at Rabaçal valley

  • Camera traps setting/pickup

  • Night survey

Day 5

  • Human-wildlife conflict management (e.g. a morning with a shepherd and his flock)

  • Data analisys (cameras)

  • Closure session & return trip*

​* for the 5 day travelers

Day 6

  • Line surveys at Nogueira Mountain

  • Data analysis (cameras)

Day 7

  • Early morning surveys

  • Closure session: main results

  • Return trip

the story behind the expedition

The wolf (Canis lupus) is the most widespread carnivore in the northern hemisphere, living from the iced tundra to semi-desert areas, passing through the temperate forests of Central Eurasia and the Americas.

For thousands of years that men and wolves have a love/hate relationship culminating, during the 20th century, in a partial extinction of the species in most of the developed countries. But there were some resistants…

Despite wolves’ decrease, the Iberian Peninsula was one of the few strongholds for this carnivore, in a landscape where wolves and men are bound to live together.

 

Today in Portugal, wolves inhabit an area that is only 20% of its original distribution, being restricted to the northern mountainous areas of the country. Last national wolf census, 15 years ago, reported a population between 200 and 400 wolves in the wild and around 60 packs.

The Iberian wolf (Canis lupus signatus) is a fully protected species by Portuguese law, being totally forbidden to kill, trap or disturb its populations. Despite this, illegal human persecution occurs due to wolves’ damages on livestock, which constitute 70% to 80% of this predator´s diet.

 

There is an enormous necessity to update wolf numbers and distribution in Portugal so that conservation measures can be successfully implemented. Between 2019 and 2021 there will be a national wolf census and YOU can be part of it! Join us!

the landscape

The expedition will take place at Northeastern Portugal, where about 25% of the Portuguese wolf population inhabit. Our monitoring range covers all Vinhais county, with an extent of 695km2.


The landscape is formed by a sequence of rounded peaks (438m to 1481m) and steep valleys, where pristine freshwater rivers meander. Human presence and activities are deeply connected to nature, producing a mosaic of oak forests, chestnut trees, mountain shrubs, riparian forest, meadows or cereal land.


The wildlife in this area is very rich and diverse, where around 250 species of vertebrate inhabit and a myriad of invertebrates make their home.

the map

the work

The main goal of this expedition is to map wolf presence in the 2.250km2 of the study area, delimit existing wolf packs and confirm breeding sites. As secondary goals we want to map wolves’ wild prey distribution and relative abundance - roe deer (Capreolus capreolus), red deer (Cervus elaphus) and wild boar (Sus scrofa) - as well as domestic prey’s availability.

 

The study area is divided into 90 5kmx5km cells, all of them surveyed each season. Survey techniques include sign transects (scats, footprints), camera trapping and oral inquiries. Sample scats are collected for food and genetic analysis, giving us insights from their movements, kinship and diet. Camera trapping will help us confirm wolf presence and number, giving at the same time information about the distribution and abundance of wild ungulates. During summer, howling stations will be use to confirm breeding sites and pup numbers.

 

The expedition members will play a crucial part in the success of the project, working closely with the team researchers, allowing to cover a larger area.