Tracking wolves in the outskirts of Oslo
Location: Oslo – Norway,
Story by: André Holm
Just outside of the capital of Norway, in the forest called Østmarka, a pack of wolves lives and thrives. The people of Oslo frequently use this forest for hiking, cross country skiing or swimming in the lakes. Here, André Holm has found his way of living – tracking the wolves. André brings tourists and other interested people to feel the proximity of the mythical wolf.
When André Holm grew up in Østmarka, there were no carnivores in these forests. He grew up in a house far from people, and his only playmate was the family dog. His whole life he has spent much time in the forest. The first time he saw wolf tracks in 1986, he felt a new dimension to his outdoor life – and he was hooked on wolves.
Since the time he saw his first wolf track, André has spent more than 800 nights outdoors in the Norwegian and Swedish wilderness. What these trips have in common, is the proximity to the carnivores and specially wolves.
“When I am sleeping outdoors, I often lie on a hilltop one or two hills away from the wolves. I listen to their sounds, and I feel a closeness to them that gives me so much”
This winter the pack in Østmarka consisted of six wolves. The pack has had four litters of cubs, and there are enough moose and roe deer around to feed the pack.
The Østmarka forest surrounds the bustling capital of Norway, and the people of Oslo love spending time in these forests. Here they go hiking, skiing, bicycling and swimming in the lakes. And according to research, the people of Oslo are mostly positive when it comes to having the wolves in their backyard.
Tourism is an activity that an bring society closer to large carnivores and increase the real knowledge on the species among citizens. When the participants observe these animals in the wild, a bond is created and the awareness of the needs and the lifestyle of the animals is rising. For some, this experience is a dream come true. There are a lot of different activities that can be offered: photo tourism, talks, field trips with biological materials (skulls and skins), tracking courses or observation trips. Also a visit to a shepherd and other people who have historically shared the territory can be arranged to let the public know.
“Since I started giving speeches about wolves, I have noticed an increase in the public interest in wolves, and people want to come with me tracking them”
The demand has increased so much, that André has thought about starting a company to meet the need of the public.
“I believe in some sort of tourism based on this. I have great faith in that. Because the interest is out there”