A group of researchers led by Vicente Urios from the University of Alicante has announced the discovery of the African Wolf (Canis lupus lupaster) in the Middle Atlas Mountains, Morocco. The wolves were captured by camera-trap since a year and a half ago. The full report of this discovery will be published in the next issue of the Quercus magazine under the title: “Detectan al lobo en Marruecos gracias al uso del foto-trampeo“.
The researchers detailed that the Berbers inhabiting the area where they worked talk about two types of “jackals”, one large and one small. The largest would actually be, according to the work of Urios’s team, a wolf. “They even have a word for wolf, Ouchen, but always thought it were jackals” says Urios.
The photographs show an animal with “obvious wolf characteristics, such as a large body, slender, with a powerful neck, tall individuals with darker mantle and short tail.” The photo is taken in the Atlas at about 1,800 meters.
Read also: Serval photographed in the Middle Atlas mountains in April 2014.
African wolf already found in Algeria and Senegal:
An article published by Gaubert et al. on 10 August 2012 (before the work of Urios et al. discussed above) shed more light on the African wolf in North and West Africa and put forward its uniqueness among other wolf lineages:
The African wolf appeared as a distinct genetic entity. Genetic distances with the other wolf lineages ranged between 1.9 and 4.3%, whereas they reached 4.5 to 9.3% between the African wolf and the different lineages of jackals. The uniqueness of the African wolf was reinforced by the fact that it had the highest level of haplotype and nucleotide diversity among gray wolf lineages, even exceeding that of the Holarctic wolves and dogs, and far greater than what was found for the Himalayan and Indian wolves”.
It is most likely that C. l. lupaster has been roaming in Africa since (at least) the Middle to Late Pleistocene, and that the African wolf and a cline of smaller morphotypes, traditionally defined as ‘golden jackals’, have been co-occurring in Africa since that period, without any clear morphological, temporal or ecological delineation.
Découverte du loup africain en Afrique du Nord (Maroc et Algérie) et de l’Ouest:
Une équipe scientifique hispano-marocaine (Urios et al. 2012) a annoncé la découverte du loup africain (Canis lupus lupaster) dans les montagnes du Moyen Atlas au Maroc. Mais avant cette anonce, une autre équipe multinationale (Gaubert et al. 2012) avait déjà découvert le loup africain au nord de l’Algérie et au Sénégal.
Gaubert P., Bloch C., Benyacoub S., Abdelhamid A., Pagani P, Djagoun C.A.M.S. & Couloux A. (2012) Reviving the African Wolf Canis lupus lupaster in North and West Africa: A Mitochondrial Lineage Ranging More than 6,000 km Wide. PLoS ONE 7(8): e42740. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0042740
Urios V., Ramírez C., Gallardo M. & Rguibi Idrissi H. (2012). Detectanal lobo en Marruecos gracias al uso del foto-trampeo. Quercus (319): 14-15)