Postcard from... Berlin


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The Independent Online

Wolf watching may not yet be part of Berlin's standard tourist repertoire, but the idea can no longer be dismissed as utterly fanciful: naturalists have sighted a pack of the animals and their cubs just 15 miles south of the German capital for the first time in well over a century.

The German office of the World Wildlife Fund said yesterday that farmers had alerted its field workers to the existence a wolf pack which appeared to have moved into a deserted former Soviet army military exercise area near the village of Sperenberg, south of Berlin.

Janosch Arnold, a WWF wolf expert, told Die Tageszeitung that naturalists equipped with infra-red night vision cameras had managed to film the animals in the area overnight; "There is definitely a wolf pack with cubs and they seem to be on top of the world," he said.

Germany's "last wolf" was reputed to have been shot in 1904. In 1990, a year after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the animals were declared a protected species and soon afterwards wolves began to be sighted in remote areas of eastern Germany after they had entered the country from Poland.

The discovery of wolves so close to a large urban conurbation like Berlin is the first of its kind since German reunification in 1990. But Mr Arnold said that the extensive areas of largely uninhabited forest in the surrounding state of Brandenberg and plentiful amounts of deer and wild boar were decisive factors.

"In principle, the whole of Brandenburg is attractive for wolves. Anywhere that a wolf finds peace and quiet and food offers the animals good living conditions," he said.