What does a wolf do when it finds it­self in the middle of an urb­an area? Maybe day­light is seep­ing into the sky and people are stir­ring. The wolf’s in­stinct is to find a se­cluded, safe place. So, he plunges into cold ocean wa­ters and swims a couple of kilo­metres through chal­len­ging cur­rents to a small, rocky archipelago.

The wolf prob­ably doesn’t real­ize this will be his home for the next eight years. A col­lec­tion of is­lands with no deer to hunt, no year-round source of wa­ter and no oth­er wolves.

He can see densely pop­u­lated Oak Bay on south­ern Vancouver Island and hear dogs bark­ing there. Sometimes he howls in re­turn. He watches freight­ers and kayakers go by and learns to hunt seals, steal goose eggs and dig for wa­ter to survive.

But most of all, he learns to live alone. This is very un­usu­al as wolves are highly so­cial an­im­als who live in fam­ily groups. No one thought the wolf would stay but, wheth­er by cir­cum­stance or choice, he did. And thrived.

Takaya Lone Wolf is a story about a wolf and a wo­man. The first time Cheryl Alexander heard the wolf howl, she was hooked. The award-win­ning con­ser­va­tion pho­to­graph­er lived a short boat ride away and began watch­ing the wolf she named Takaya. Personal ob­ser­va­tions and pho­to­graphs were aug­men­ted by video foot­age and trail cam­er­as. Before she knew it, she was doc­u­ment­ing the life of a lone wolf.

Alexander’s new book provides an in­tim­ate glimpse into Takaya’s day-to-day life, as well as the vast beauty and rich­ness of his do­main and the wild­life that share it.  The pho­to­grapher­’s per­sist­ence and pa­tience also re­veals some wolf be­ha­viour that has per­haps nev­er been doc­u­mented before.

Takaya Lone Wolf is a beau­ti­ful blend of stun­ning pho­to­graphs with heart­felt words. Alexander in­vites the read­er into a wild­ness that, sur­pris­ingly, can ex­ist close to the cap­it­al of British Columbia in Canada. It also raises ques­tions about how hu­mans re­late to wolves. The book is sched­uled for a September 29 release.

Last year, Takaya and Alexander’s story ap­peared on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s The Nature of Things, as well as BBC TV in the UK and ARTE tele­vi­sion in France and Germany.

For more in­form­a­tion vis­it the Facebook page TAKAYA: @takayalonewolf.



Takaya: Lone Wolf

In 2012, an ap­prox­im­ately two-year old wolf sud­denly ap­peared on Discovery Island, not far from the densely pop­u­lated mu­ni­cip­al­ity of Oak Bay on south­ern Vancouver Island, BC.

He’d prob­ably dis­persed from his birth pack on Vancouver Island and was look­ing for a mate and ter­rit­ory to call his own. But some­where along the way, he made a wrong turn and found him­self in an urb­an area. So, per­haps con­fused or spooked, he swam through chal­len­ging wa­ters to a small cluster of islands.

Wolves are highly so­cial an­im­als, so no one thought he’d stay. But, des­pite all odds, he has. For sev­en years he’s sur­vived – and thrived – in a loc­a­tion that has no oth­er wolves, no year-round source of wa­ter and no deer or oth­er un­gu­lates to hunt.

Cheryl Alexander has fol­lowed the jour­ney of the wolf she calls Takaya with her cam­era and heart for nearly sev­en years. The renowned wild­life pho­to­graph­er has watched him swim from is­land to is­land, seen him feed­ing on seals and listened to him howl to­wards the lights of Oak Bay.

On Friday, October 4, the story of this re­mark­able wolf and wo­man will air on CBC TV’s The Nature of Things. Takaya: Lone Wolf is an in­ter­na­tion­al co-pro­duc­tion, which will run on BBC, CBC and ARTE.

Cheryl was a won­der­ful re­source while I was re­search­ing Return of the Wolf and I can’t wait to see the doc­u­ment­ary fea­tur­ing her pho­to­graphs and in-depth know­ledge about this un­usu­al wolf.

Click here to view a trail­er of the documentary.

Photo by Cheryl Alexander