Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Falkland Islands Wolf

Ever since I wrote about the quagga, requests have poured in for me to write about more of these fascinating, but sadly extinct animals.  Well, at least one request has poured in.  And that's enough for me to decide that I should just find a nice, extinct animal to write about sometimes.  That way we can all learn something, and if we are ever on a quiz show, we might be able to answer some trivia question about extinct animals, and then we would win Big Bucks and be really rich!

So anyway, I looked at a list of lots of extinct animals, and I decided to write about an extinct wolf because when any member of the dog family goes extinct, it's a very sad day.

But first, before I can talk about this wolf, we have to have a little geography lesson because I didn't know where the Falkland Islands even were, and Mom never can remember where they are except that they are somewhere around South America and there was a war there not too long ago.  So we looked it up, and we found that the Falkland Islands are way, way down at the tip of Argentina.  There are two great big islands, called East Falkland and West Falkland, and there are 776 littler islands.

The British mostly settled the Falkland Islands, so the Islands are what is called a "self-governing overseas territory" of the UK.  But Argentina thinks that the Islands should belong to them, so they tried to take over in 1982, and the British fought back and won.  I'm not saying who's right and who's wrong in this little argument.  I'm just telling you what happened.

Okay, so now we can talk about the Falkland Islands Wolf, which is also sometimes called the Warrah or the Falkland Islands Dog or the Falkland Islands Fox or the Antarctic Wolf.  This is a lot of names for one little animal to have, if you ask me!  But anyway, this wolf was the only land mammal that lived in the Falkland Islands, and it mostly ate birds, grubs, and insects, because there weren't any bunnies or squirrels there to eat.  No one knows exactly how the wolf got to the islands in the first place, but it might have floated over on some ice or there might have been some kind of land bridge way back a long time ago.  But now that the Falkland Islands Wolf isn't around anymore, the next closest relative is the Maned Wolf, which is what you can see in this photo.

You are probably wondering how the Falkland Islands Wolf became extinct, so I will just go ahead and tell you:  people killed them all.  This is a very sad truth, but I have to tell it to you anyway.  These wolves were very tame and friendly with people, and this was because they did not have any predators on the islands until people came, so they didn't have any reason to be afraid.

The first human who wrote about seeing a Falkland Islands Wolf was Captain John Strong, in 1692.  He took a wolf on his ship so he could show it to people in Europe, but then when the ship fired its cannon, the wolf got very scared and jumped overboard.  Frankly, I would have done the exact same thing!

Charles Darwin, who was a very famous man who studied nature, wrote about the Falkland Islands Wolves and about how tame they were.  He said that a person could kill a wolf by offering a piece of meat with one hand and then stabbing the wolf with a knife in the other hand.  Mr. Darwin predicted that the wolf would soon be extinct, and he was right.  The people who came to live on the islands wanted to kill the wolves because they thought the wolves would eat their sheep.  So they poisoned the wolves and also shot them.  The last wolf on West Falkland Island was killed in 1876.

In 1868, a Falkland Islands Wolf went to live in the London Zoo, but died after a few years.  Here's a photo of one that got stuffed and put in a museum somewhere in Europe.

I'm sorry this story has a sad ending, but I guess stories about extinct animals are always going to end sadly.  It's not my fault that the Falkland Islands people killed off all their wolves, but if I had been around when they were doing it, I might have bitten them on the leg to see if I could get them to stop!


  1. Oooohhh, this was great! Mom says she's heard of the Falkland Island wolf, but had not seen those nice pictures. I think it's a good thing to tell these sad stories so maybe we all can learn from them and not let any more animals go extinct. (Did you know the opposite of extinct is extant? Cool huh?)

    Your friend,
    Zest, superstar in training

  2. Hey, Zest, I'm glad you liked my story about the Falkland Islands Wolf! I didn't know about "extinct" and "extant." Mom says she will have to find a way to work "extant" into her next conversation, as in "Slugs are still extant in our back yard" or something like that!
    Gotta go now! Bye!
    Your friend, Piper

  3. falkland islands dog is pretty

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  5. Thanks for your information i know about the fox i see on 50 pence coin from falkland , my favorite 50p , all times i try to find about this fox or wolf

    1. I didn't know this fox was on the 50 pence coin in the Falklands. Thanks for the information. I'm glad you liked my blog entry!