Wolves and monkeys

As well as hav­ing com­plex re­la­tion­ships with their own spe­cies, wolves also have in­triguing re­la­tion­ships with oth­er wild animals.

Most of these re­la­tion­ships re­volve around prey. Ravens fol­low wolves to scav­enge their kills and it’s be­lieved they also lead wolves to prey so they will have some­thing to scavenge.

Bears, es­pe­cially grizz­lies, chase wolves off a kill so they can chow down on the car­cass. Sometimes, one wolf will taunt the bear while oth­ers dart in to grab a piece of meat.

These ex­changes ap­pear fe­ro­cious but rarely lead to in­jury for the wolves or bears. And of­ten, even though they killed the prey, wolves will just lie down nearby and wait for whatever scraps the bear leaves behind.

But wolves and mon­keys? That re­la­tion­ship was un­heard of un­til a couple of years ago when re­search­ers ob­served Ethiopian wolves hunt­ing for ro­dents — and hav­ing more suc­cess — when they were among a troop of ge­lada mon­keys, a type of baboon.

The wolves wandered through large groups of six to sev­en hun­dred ge­la­das, with the prim­ates show­ing no fear even when the pred­at­ors were very close. And even though the wolves were per­fectly cap­able of killing baby ge­la­das, they rarely did.

The wolves al­ways mingled with the mon­keys dur­ing mid­day when ro­dents in the area were most act­ive. Researchers spec­u­late that the graz­ing mon­keys dis­turb the ro­dents, mak­ing it easi­er for wolves to hunt them, and that the wolves de­lib­er­ately avoid harm­ing the mon­keys to take ad­vant­age of this opportunity.

Photo by Jeffrey Kerby taken in the Guassa Community Reserve, Menz Region of the cent­ral high­lands of Ethiopia.

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