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

18 Replies to “Takaya: Lone Wolf”

  1. bonjour cheryl ALEXANDER

    je me prénomme MICKAËL et je suis FRANÇAIS .
    J’ai suivi la vie de TAKAYA dans votre reportage sur la chaine ARTE ( je l’ai regardé plusieurs fois en boucle ) tellement j’étais ému sur la relation que vous avez instauré avec TAKAYA .
    Je viens d’apprendre qu’un chasseur la tué et croyez moi en écrivant ce message , des larmes me coule sur mon visage car mon surnom que mes amis mon donné est ” the wolf”.
    Voila ,pour vous je suis un inconnu mais je voulais me joindre à votre chagrin pour la mort de TAKAYA , Qu’il était magnifique avec ces hurlements qui me faisait hérissé mes poils tellement il était magnifique en appelent une compagne .Pouvez-vous me dire si dans le reportage , la femelle vu dans le reportage avait réussi à rejoindre TAKAYA ? et pourqu’oi ce chassseur la tué
    Cordialemnt MICKAEL

    1. Yes, I too was saddened by Takaya’s death. He was an iconic wolf and will be mourned and remembered by many.

      And, I am not Cheryl, if you wish to reach her, google Cheryl Alexander. I believe she has a photography website and Instagram page.

  2. watched the Takaya doc….recently on BBC….LOVELY TO KNOW THAT he has been left in PEACE & the tribe who own the islands/heritage lands etc…requested that he be left in peace…AS he is a FABULOUS EXAMPLE OF INNOVATION & RESILIENCE….go Takaya….at least he has cheryls company & an appreciative buddy & observer…to whom as her man observed, has brought a WHOLE NEW DIMENSION TO THEIR MARRAGE & ZEST FOR LIFE…
    would be g8 If a female buddy did appear…but seems unlikely…given the swim.
    he is an alpha dude & his knowledge of isle existance wld have kick started an alternative maritime isle timber wolf tribe…WOW .
    WISHING TAKAYA …MOON…SUN…& SEA BLESSINGS.

  3. I missed this show and very interested when it will be airing again.
    Any future broadcast dates set?
    Thank you,
    Jill G.

    1. Hi Jill,

      If you google The Nature of Things Takaya Lone Wolf you should be able to find the documentary. It may be up on YouTube also.

  4. Hello Paula,
    I enjoyed watching the documentary of Takaya. He seems very calm and enjoys his time alone. I love how Cheryl is not afraid to be around him. It’s nice to see he accepts her! Do you know if Cheryl is still visiting and documenting? Also, I wonder if she thought about putting a female wolf on the island so he could start his own family? Has there been any more female wolfs in the area?
    Thank you!
    Sincerely from Vicki- an animal lover!

    1. Hi Vicki,

      Thanks for your comment. Cheryl has a special relationship with Takaya. Most of her observations are done from a boat or with motion-sensor cameras to avoid Takaya becoming habituated. Habituated wolves – those that have lost their wariness around humans – can become bold and can often end up having to be destroyed.

      It’s illegal for anyone other than a wildlife official or police officer to transport wildlife. Also, Takaya’s territory is really too small to support a pair of wolves and their offspring. As far as I know, no other female wolves have been anywhere near Takaya. As sad as it seems, he has lived there for seven years alone and will likely continue to do so.

  5. Thank you so much for finding Takaya and befriending him. He is stunning!
    And you’re an amazing woman and photographer.

    1. Wow! Just saw this CBC special in Takaya. Thank you Cheryl for sharing your experiences, photos, videos and sound recordings of the amazing lone wolf Takaya. Updates on the lone female would be greatly appreciated.

    2. I am also hoping for updates, I looked to see if there was a facebook page but could not find one. Would love to know if he has a new mate, how he is doing etc. thank-you, Connie

    3. Hi Connie,

      As far as I know, there is no website or Facebook page for Takaya. At the moment, he’s living much as he has for the last seven years, hunting, resting and patrolling his small territory. No mate and, the more time that passes, the less likely it is that the female wolf spotted on Vancouver Island near Discovery Island will swim out to join him.

      For updates, I suggest you occasionally google Takaya Lone Wolf. The search will turn up any new entries on my blog and any other possible news about this unique wolf.

  6. I lived in Sooke,BC, from 2006 to 2012.
    I had a medium sized dog that I would regularly walk at the Whiffin Spit…Around 2010, or so, a woman brought a beautiful, wolf- looking puppy down to the spot. She told me that she had imported the puppy from Northern Alberta, she told me he was 95% wolf…I watched the puppy turn into a big dog. The woman was losing more and more control over him. I was worried for my dog eventually because he would come on very strong for playing…but, he was much stronger than he realized….
    Last I saw this woman, she couldn’t control him and he was jumping on her shoulders.He became about twice her size and she had him on a very thick rope. Before, she tried to socialize him by letting him run free around our domestic dogs. She was yelling at him in the parking lot to get into her truck.
    I thought, what was she thinking when she adopted a wild wolf?
    Could this be Takaya?
    He was about 1 1/2 years old that last time I saw him.

    1. That’s an interesting question, Myriam. The behaviour you describe is typical of a wolf or high content wolf-dog. Their needs are much different than a dog’s and, once they mature, they are often surrendered to sanctuaries or euthanized.

      I don’t believe the animal you describe and Takaya are the same. For one thing, Takaya is not habituated to humans like the animal you saw. And, although it would have some innate instincts regarding hunting, it would also be used to having food provided and most likely have a difficult time sustaining itself. Also, I read that some of Takaya’s fur was tested and the DNA suggested he came from the Campbell River area. Wolves wearing radio collars have been tracked travelling from north of Campbell River to Sooke. When Takaya first appeared he was around two years old, which is frequently when wolves disperse from their natal pack to find a mate and start their own pack.

      Paula

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