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Hoh Xil’s Chubby Wolf: A Tale of Human Interference and Wildlife Welfare

ChinaHoh Xil's Chubby Wolf: A Tale of Human Interference and Wildlife Welfare

In the remote expanses of the Hoh Xil nature reserve, located in Northwest China’s Qinghai Province, a wolf is exhibiting behavior far from typical. Recent footage captured by an online user reveals the wolf not hunting or prowling, but rather playfully engaging with passing vehicles and rolling over as if seeking treats.

The video showcases the wolf, looking notably chubby, wagging its tail and positioning itself enticingly in front of automobiles. This surprising behavior is attributed to regular feedings from well-meaning visitors, as corroborated by various videos and accounts shared online.

A video shared earlier in July provides context to this ongoing narrative. A female traveler encountered what appeared to be an emaciated wolf on her journey through Hoh Xil. Compelled by sympathy, she stepped out of her vehicle to offer the wolf some beef jerky. Subsequent videos from different netizens depict the same wolf, or potentially others, sauntering near cars and even reclining in front of them, suggesting a pattern of human-provided feedings over an extended period.

This peculiar interaction between man and beast rapidly captured the collective imagination, with the video making viral rounds on the internet. While many found the wolf’s antics endearing and humorously quipped about its newfound aversion to hard work, others voiced concerns about the potentially detrimental effects on the wolf’s natural instincts and the broader ecosystem.

Renowned researcher Dai Qiang, associated with the Chengdu Institute of Biology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and with extensive experience in wildlife study, strongly advises against such interactions. Feeding wild creatures, particularly predators like wolves, can breed dependence and might lead to unforeseen consequences. He underscores the inherent risks, stating, “Wild animals, especially if injured, could harbor harmful bacteria. Wolves, being naturally aggressive creatures, may pose a threat to humans.”

Adding to the discourse, Wang Xing, a wildlife protector based in Beijing, emphasized the importance of non-intervention in natural ecosystems. While wolves are protected species in the country, undue human involvement can disrupt the intricate balance of nature.

However, this incident with the wolf is not an isolated case. Netizens have posted videos of brown bears, similar to wolves, receiving food handouts from visitors. Such a video in early October depicted five wild brown bears being fed by tourists in a picturesque locale in Qinghai.

Qi Xinzhang, the deputy director of Xining Wildlife Park, weighed in on the wolf video, urging the public to contact relevant authorities if they genuinely believe a wild animal is in distress. Qi astutely summarized the prevailing sentiment: “While kindness is commendable, it requires the foundation of rationality to prevent unintended adverse outcomes.”


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