Fairwell Poppy

It is with sadness that I write to tell you that our Wolf Poppy passed away earlier this week.

She was almost 16 years of age and had arrived here many years ago following a dominance fight within her pack at West Midlands Safari Park. Initially she was placed in the same enclosure with Nouska and Callow and a good relationship was founded. However, when the annual hormonal season arrived she and Callow became rivals for Nousa’s attention. As a consequence and in order to avoid imminent hostilities, she was moved next door to a smaller and mainly wooded enclosure where she could still see, smell and hear her former pack mates, but that was all.

Although Poppy had no early socialisation, over the years, whilst remaining shy, she would occasionally take kindly to someone, usually a female person who spent time sitting by the edge of her enclosure, offering food or simply waiting for a chance sighting or photograph.

This behaviour rarely extended itself to me and I often wondered if she had perhaps not forgiven me for that earlier separation from her former mates.

It was over the last few weeks that a noticeable difference took place in her activities, that reminded me of her age and that 16 years was over twice the age of a Wolf that lived in the wild.

I introduced a new shelter into the enclosure that, surprisingly she took to for a short while before passing away quite close to it.

Poppy will be remembered as a kindly Wolf who I believe enjoyed her thickly wooded environment that gave her some contact with her neighbours without compromising her own privacy.

Could I thank everyone who had adopted her over the years. This support has benefitted her and has allowed us to continue Wolf Watch and what we do here.

Poppy is buried next to Callow and Tilly near to her enclosure.

Thank You

Annual Wolf Watch Fundraiser – Anita Greenfield

We would like to thank WWUK lifetime member Anita Greenfield for hosting her annual Wolf Watch fundraiser / card, cake and prosecco evening and donating the proceeds to our wolves. Anita came along to centre and presented the cheque to Tony.

Thank you Anita we greatly appreciate your continued support and we look forwards to welcoming you back to see the pack very soon.

Work continues on Kgosi Lodge

Work is now well underway on our new lodge, with pipework being laid and the first bricks placed, you can see here the initial footprint of the building is taking shape. We will keep you posted over the next few weeks, on how we are getting along with the exciting new development – for now it’s back to the building site!

Extract from a new book, Forest – Walking Among Trees by Matt Collins

We’ve recently been informed that a new book, Forest – Walking Among Trees, written by Matt Collins includes a mention of Wolf Watch, and Tony. Here is a link for anyone interested:

“Rewilding / Reintroduction of wolves into Scotland” – Tony’s view

Dear BBC Wildlife Magazine,

I write in response to your Article ‘A Land fit for Wolves’ June 19, 2019.

As the founder of a privately owned single species rescue and education centre, Wolf Watch UK, I have kept Wolves in large natural enclosures on a continuous basis for almost thirty five years.

Reintroducing the Wolf to the British Isles has been discussed by numerous bodies and individuals for as long as I can remember. Driven by media and those dedicated to re wilding Great Britain the subject has held attention, albeit for short periods, before fading away in the mists of a romantic notion.

Comparisons with the success story of Yellowstone Park are often sited as a good reason for giving the idea credibility. The half a million or so Red Deer that roam Scotland have no natural predator and the damage they do in preventing the natural regrowth of forests is surely a reason in itself for a ‘trial run’ or ‘pilot scheme.’

Or is it? Perhaps we should remember several unfavourable differences…Yellowstone Park is some three and a half thousand square miles of wilderness (about the size of Wales.) We should also consider the number of Wolves needed to make an acceptable ‘Dent’ in the estimated number of Scottish Deer and if we happen to get the equation correct, what happens when such a large number of Wolves start to breed and disperse. Let’s say the average territory of a family pack of European Wolves is a hundred square miles (depending on prey density) I start to see some shrinkage in the possibilities for such a programme.

Then look at the inevitable cost of an environmental impact study. It would cost many millions of pounds sterling. Maybe similar to a high speed railway scheme and it might take longer. Although I could suggest it would be of far more use. Nevertheless, with the tax payer footing the bill who would take the risk of the outcome becoming a none event.

The State of Wyoming envisaged correctly that their project would have an enormous positive effect on the Yellowstone tourist industry as well as the environment. Could we realistically forecast the same for Scotland.

As a farmer in Scotland would you welcome a pack of self catering Wolves roaming the hills amongst your livestock. Those who became adversely affected would likely persecute this intruder and drive him to more remote places. The absence of tourist infrastructure in such places would need to be addressed. Such practices might also cause the animal to consider nocturnal activities to be safer. Could the sale of night glasses reduce some of the costs!

Livestock compensation schemes, extra shepherds, guard dogs and the like, all cost money.

Looking back through history and returning to the present day, many of the reasons that brought about the Wolf’s extinction in Great Britain are not just still in place, but have increased dramatically. These include competition with many aspects of agriculture such as livestock and space. And above all too many people, some of whom simply don’t want this to happen.

Of course the Wolf would present little or no threat to the human population and what a fabulous sight it would make to watch this animal in such a beautiful landscape. But, let us not forget that we are a nation that currently has difficulties in living side by side to badgers and foxes and many other species.

Amongst the many discussions on this subject I have rarely heard mention a most important consideration, that being ‘ Would it be good for the Wolf.’ In my opinion the answer is ‘No.’
Constantly having to look over your shoulder to see if you are being chased by two and a half ounces of lead shot is a high price to pay for freedom.

The Industrial Revolution brought about development to our land, but not a great deal of thought with regard to sustainability. We are now paying the price for that. Our own selfish needs have paid scant regard for other species that share the planet, let alone encouragement for them to increase alongside us. So we now juggle with what we have left in a foolish attempt to live with less.

If indeed the Wolf won the lottery and no expense was to be spared, would it not make more sense to choose a less overcrowd country where it is already indigenous, has a good chance of remaining so, but needs our help through Investment and education.

Finally, I both admire and respect Jim Crumley for his knowledge and passion for the Scottish landscape, but as much as I would love to see the Wolf’s return there, many other environmental priorities are stacking up and begging our attention.

With Best Wishes,

Tony Haighway,


Card, Cake and Prosecco!

We would like to thank WWUK member Anita Greenfield for hosting a card, cake and prosecco evening and donating the proceeds to our wolves.

Over the last few years Anita has been a valued member and advocate of Wolf Watch and in recognition we would like to honour her contribution by making her a lifetime member.

Thank you Anita and we look forwards to welcoming you back to see the pack very soon.

Wolf Night 2019 – Paradise Wildlife Park

We would like to extend our sincere thanks and gratitude to Lyn, Pia and all at Paradise Wildlife Park, Broxbourne.

Unfortunately due to dominance fights with her sister, Anja was rehomed with us in 2015. We are extremely grateful to Paradise Wildlife Park for their continued support of Anja.

The donation will be put towards fencing costs and on going improvements of Anja’s enclosure. Thank you once more.

Anja’s brother Romulus and sister Inge still happily live together at Paradise Wildlife Park.

Announcement from Tony Haighway

It is with sadness we announce that two of our Wolves have recently died. Tilley who came to us almost a year ago and Callow who has been with us for many years.

Tilley and Rickon were involved in a dominance fight through the double fence separating their enclosures. Tilley broke  two strands of fence on his side allowing him to get his head through. Rickon bent the wire on his side allowing him the same access. Although there is a nine inch gap between the two, they were able to engage in a fight.

I was able to separate them and Rickon walked away shaking. Tilley was injured and despite every effort I was unable to contain him as he embedded himself in thick undergrowth and kept moving away.  There was little the vet could do and it became dark, even with torches I couldn’t locate him. At first light, I managed to crawl to him and extract him. By then he was not fully conscious. Despite best efforts by our vet he succumbed to his injuries.

Ten days later, although not involved in the confrontation, I found Callow curled up in her sleeping place, it appeared she had passed away whilst sleeping.

Having kept Wolves over a long period of time, the experience of loss holds some familiarity. Each Wolf resonates a mark of understanding about life and death. Like people, it’s what has happened in their lifetime that is important. Unfortunately, captivity controlled their lives, so the experiences that nature intended for them were reduced.
Sometimes it is easy to forget that much of their behaviour in captivity mirrors that which occurs in the wild.

The circumstances and timing surrounding the Loss of Tilley and Callow were sudden and unexpected in the sense. I believed double fencing would inhibit such an occurrence and that this behaviour (the augmentation of aggression between males) has never manifested itself until November onwards through to Spring when Cubs arrive and the hormonal situation settles.

For me, it is a lesson learned, that relates to the determination embedded in Wolves when they engage in such behaviours. Overcoming the almost heart stopping shock of discovering something you love is injured or dead can only be dealt with by moving forward. The care and respect is inherent, but I feel the loss must be accepted and regarded as the ‘Flip’ side of the good experiences, happiness and privilege that we have enjoyed in sharing their lives.

I am sorry to bring you this news.

With thanks,  Tony