By Hana Namrouqa

AMMAN – Ecologists on Tuesday warned that wolves, a locally threatened species, are increasingly being hunted down and poisoned, leading to a drop in their numbers in Jordan.

Gray wolves, known simply as wolves, are carnivorous mammals belonging to the Canidae family, of which five species exist in Jordan, also including the jackal, red fox, sand fox and Blanford’s fox.

Wolves are listed by the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature (RSCN) as a species in need of conservation, while the animal is protected by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species against overexploitation through international trade, according to ecologists.

“Wolves are an important species for keeping ecological balance. However, they are being killed by several means leading to a huge reduction in its numbers,” animal studies researcher at the RSCN, Omar Abed, said yesterday.

Wolves play a major role in limiting the numbers of wild boars, which feed on and damage farmers’ crops, Abed noted, underscoring the importance of protecting the animal.

“Unfortunately, some people poison the wolves and others hunt them down disregarding their vital role in preserving biodiversity in Jordan,” the ecologist said in a statement released by the RSCN.

“To protect the animal, the RSCN is preserving it within its natural habitats in nature reserves,” the researcher underscored.

The Kingdom is home to eight nature reserves in Dana, Azraq, Shomari, Mujib, Ajloun, Wadi Rum, Dibbeen and the Yarmouk River Basin, which include different ecosystems and preserve locally and globally threatened fauna and flora.

Abed noted that although wolves usually travel and hunt down their prey in packs, wolves in Jordan travel and hunt for food individually or in pairs, a behavioural change the ecologist attributed to habitat destruction.

“Destruction of wolves’ natural habitat in the Kingdom due to agricultural land use, urban expansion, road construction and random grazing forced wolves to change their strategies and abandon their habitats,” he explained.

He also noted that wolves in Jordan prey on bedouins’ livestock herds.

Meanwhile, RSCN’s field studies coordinator Ehab Eid noted that wolves are mainly found in the eastern desert and the northern and southern parts of the country, underscoring that there are no official figures on their numbers.

“During the society’s field studies and research, we have noticed a drop in the number of wolves in their usual habitats. Wolves are being either killed by herders to protect their livestock, poisoned, hunted or run over,” Eid told The Jordan Times yesterday.

He urged herdsmen to keep their animals in closed barns to protect them, rather than hunting or poisoning the wolves.