In search of Japan’s lost wolves: Enduring legacy

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Nestled amongst dense woodlands within the mountains of Nara Prefecture, a area steeped in historical myths and legends, the sleepy village of Higashiyoshino is thought for its famed Yoshino-brand cedar.

Superbly weathered conventional Japanese-style properties lining its predominant avenue invite a customer to hark again to the logging group’s olden days.

The alleys had been empty and retailers had been closed throughout a weekend journey in January to the settlement of round 1,600 residents. The whole lot was quiet, save the mild trickle of the Takami River and the occasional chirping of birds.

Near the banks of the stream, alongside Route 16, a highway that winds across the steep mountainside, stands a life-sized statue of a wolf. It was close to right here, at an inn within the district of Washikaguchi, that American zoologist Malcolm Playfair Anderson bought the carcass of the final identified Japanese wolf.

Its head tilted again and mouth open as if to emit a mournful cry, the bronze statue stands as testomony to the merciless destiny that the beast endured earlier than its supposed extinction in 1905.

Piling on when a mixture of canine rabies and distemper epidemics had diminished the packs, people — who had for earlier centuries worshipped the wolf as sacred — turned on the species and hunted down the survivors.

The nation’s wilderness misplaced its apex predator, leaving its ecological panorama completely altered.

Hogetsuro, the inn Anderson stayed at, is gone. The mountains that when had been house to a wholesome inhabitants wolves not hear the primal howl that echoed throughout its hills and valleys.

Peering into the huge forests that also dominate the terrain, nonetheless, one can’t assist however think about the beast nonetheless prowling in its shadows, silently stalking its prey.

Close to the statue is a time-worn stone monument that bears a easy haiku.

“The wolf has perished,” it reads. “Its spirit lives on.”

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