The LIFE WolFlux project aims to increase the connectivity of the Portuguese Iberian wolf subpopulation south of the Douro river, and the integration of guarding dogs has a fundamental role in this process
One of the actions of the LIFE WolFlux project has been the integration of guarding dogs with local herds and flocks. The objective is to incorporate dogs with the existing cattle in the area covered by the project.
This is a preventive measure that has helped to reduce the risk of wolf attacks. It is hoped that this action will continue to set a positive example that will be followed by other livestock farmers within the project area, reducing conflicts between the wolves and the livestock sector.
“By reducing predation by wolves and thus promoting coexistence between people and the wolf, these dogs are contributing to the recovery of the species, increasing stability, interaction and territorial expansion of established packs”
Sara Aliácar, Rewilding Portugal
The Serra da Estrela breed
Serra da Estrela dogs are one of the oldest dog breeds in the Iberian Peninsula and have protected cattle south of the Douro against Iberian wolves and stray dogs for centuries, making them the chosen breed to be used in the project. This is, however, a tradition that is being lost, especially in territories where the wolf is almost never seen.
A shepherd with Serra da Estrela dogs can protect himself from predation by wolves much more efficiently than one that does not use them, as they invariably detect the presence of wolves first. In a rocky and shrubby habitat like the one that characterizes the area of this project, the strategy they use is to lie down, hide and keep watch.