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
Dates
Expedition program
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.

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the stay

Expedition participants will stay at facilities from Vinhais Biological Park (VBP). Depending on the time of the year and the number of participants, there are two options: Rio de Fornos Mansion-House and VBP Bungalows.

Rio de Fornos Mansion-House:

A fully recoverd 17th century manor at Rio de Fornos village (2km from Vinhais). It has 2 double-rooms and 4 bunk-beds rooms (8, 10 and 2x14 pax). A fully equiped kitchen is available, dinning room, lounge room, showers and several WC.

VBP Bungalows:

Located at the VBP area, T2, T3 and T4 wooden bungalows with WC and kitchen are available.

Manor House at Vinhais

Manor House at Vinhais

Vinhais Biological Park

Vinhais Biological Park

Living room at Manor House

Living room at Manor House

Biological pool

Biological pool

Bunk bed room

Bunk bed room

Bungalow

Bungalow

Bungalow

Bungalow

Bungalow beds

Bungalow beds

meet our team

Senior consultant and wolf specialist

our dates

 
Iberian Wolf Expedition October 2020
Sat, Oct 24
Vinhais Biological Park
Oct 24, 10:00 AM GMT+1 – Oct 31, 3:00 PM GMT
Vinhais Biological Park, Alto da Cidadelha, 5320-023 Vinhais, Portugal
Autumn Expedition. Includes accommodation, food and research costs. Doesn´t include international flights and travel arrangements. See Terms & Conditions.
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Iberian Wolf Expedition September 2020
Sat, Aug 29
Vinhais Biological Park
Aug 29, 10:00 AM GMT+1 – Sep 05, 3:00 PM GMT+1
Vinhais Biological Park, Alto da Cidadelha, 5320-023 Vinhais, Portugal
Late Summer Expedition. Includes accommodation, food and research costs. Doesn´t include international flights and travel arrangements. See Terms & Conditions.
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Iberian Wolf Expedition July 2020
Sat, Jul 11
Vinhais Biological Park
Jul 11, 10:00 AM GMT+1 – Jul 18, 4:00 PM GMT+1
Vinhais Biological Park, Alto da Cidadelha, 5320-023 Vinhais, Portugal
Early Summer Expedition. Includes accommodation, food and research costs. Doesn´t include international flights and travel arrangements. See Terms & Conditions.
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Iberian Wolf Expedition April 2020
Sun, Apr 26
Vinhais Biological Park
Apr 26, 10:00 AM – May 02, 3:00 PM
Vinhais Biological Park, Alto da Cidadelha, 5320-023 Vinhais, Portugal
Spring Expedition. Includes accommodation, food and research costs. Doesn´t include international flights and travel arrangements. See Terms & Conditions.
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Iberian Wolf Expedition February 2020
Sun, Feb 23
Vinhais Biological Park
Feb 23, 10:00 AM – Feb 29, 3:00 PM
Vinhais Biological Park, Alto da Cidadelha, 5320-023 Vinhais, Portugal
Winter Expedition. Includes accommodation, food and research costs. Doesn´t include international flights and travel arrangements. See Terms & Conditions.
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Expedition partner

Grupo Lobo is an independent non-profit NGO (non-governamental organization) which was founded in 1985 with the objective to conserve the wolf and its ecosystem in Portugal.

Grupo Lobo has helped draft the Wolf Protection Law and its work goes from field monitoring projects to sustainable herding practices.

See more at

http://www.grupolobo.pt/

Expedition partner

Vinhais Biological Park is a public equipment managed by Vinhais Municipality and it is located inside Montesinho Natural Park, one of the most diverse biological areas in Portugal.

Main valences includes:

- natural and cultural interpretation

- nature conservation

- ecotourism development

See more at

http://parquebiologicodevinhais.com

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