Yellowstone was the first national park in the world created to save an emblematic American species from extinction – the American buffalo.
This is Yellowstone national park, in the west of the United States.
Today, Yellowstone is a sanctuary for wildlife, where the animals live in freedom, multiplying their populations away from the growing development of the greatest world superpower in an apparently unchanging, ideal balance. But nothing could be further from the truth.
Yellowstone was the first national park in the world. Here, the foundations were laid for the creation of a network of sanctuaries to preserve nature from the unstoppable advance of man and, in the case of Yellowstone, to save an emblematic American species from extinction – the American buffalo. Man was on the point of wiping out this species and man managed, through Yellowstone, to save it from extinction. But, when the park was created, old enemies came face to face. Yellowstone is surrounded by cattle-breeding territory, and no one was fond of the most important predator in the reserve, an animal that could kill domestic cattle and which, in nature, was the only one capable of hunting the buffalo: the wolf.
Despite its new status as a national park, during the first decades after its creation, the wardens of Yellowstone persecuted and decimated the wolves.
And, playing at being gods, in order to save one species, they wiped out another one inside the protected area.
In time, scientific knowledge has revealed surprising data. Not only had the wolves not wiped out the buffalo in Yellowstone, in fact they favoured the health of its populations.
With the disappearance of the wolf, coyotes proliferated within the park, assuming the role of the main predator. But the coyotes were able to do very little to control the populations of large herbivores. And, plucking up its courage in an exemplary manner, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, undertook the difficult task of remedying its mistake.
Today, the grey wolf has returned to Yellowstone. Overcoming infinite difficulties and local opposition, the great predator has returned to its original prairies. And the first effects were rapidly seen.
The populations of buffalos, American elk and mule deer are recovering their genetic vigour. The coyotes, whose numbers threatened different local species of birds and rodents, have returned to their original populations. And the ecosystem, altered so many times by man, has returned to something more like its original balance.
Today the wolf of Yellowstone is now a symbol of hope; a demonstration of how our mistakes can be put right. We have changed the planet, devastating our surroundings and playing at being gods in a world whose functioning we do not really understand. But we have also reached a cultural, moral and scientific development that is leading us to correct mistakes. And new winds of hope are starting to blow in a world that needs help and where the very future of our species is at stake.