From hunter to beggar: Wild wolf's transformation gains online fame and concern
In the Hoh Xil nature reserve of Qinghai province, a wild wolf's curious transformation has captured online attention, as it has plumped up after being fed by passing drivers.
While netizens found humor in the wolf's newfound resemblance to a domestic dog, media outlets are urging the public to refrain from feeding it, citing potential ecosystem disturbances and adverse consequences.
Videos and images of the wolf's conspicuous weight gain surfaced as it became a regular recipient of various food items from passing motorists, ranging from custard pies to roasted chicken and sausages.
The wild animal learned to pursue vehicles in hopes of a meal, wagging its tail, rolling on the ground, and exposing its belly. Subsequently, more wolves have joined this behavior.
The initial videos of the wolf were shared online in July when travelers first encountered the animal while driving through Hoh Xil. At the time, the wolf appeared thin and undernourished, prompting individuals to offer it some food.
This act ignited a surge in the wolf's popularity, with people flocking to the area to provide it with food. While some online users playfully remarked on the wolf's transition into a quasi-domestic creature, others expressed valid concerns about the potential disruption of the ecosystem and the associated risks to humans.
Dai Qiang, a researcher at the Chengdu Institute of Biology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, cautioned against such feeding behavior, citing the risk of the wolf becoming overly dependent on humans, with potentially adverse consequences.
Highlighting that wolves are predatory animals, he emphasized the importance of maintaining a safe distance. Additionally, he noted that wild animals, particularly those injured, may carry disease-causing bacteria.
Dai stressed that unless the species is endangered due to human actions, it is not advisable for humans to intervene. While the protection of wolves, designated as second-level protected animals in China, is crucial, excessive human involvement is discouraged.