Wolf attack on Xinjiang village leaves six injured

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 13 August, 2014, 12:21pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 13 August, 2014, 5:48pm

A rare attack by wolves injured six people at a village in Xinjiang on Monday and prompted concerns about the deteriorating environment for wild animals in the region, according to a report on the website of People’s Daily.

Local authorities said four or five hungry wolves sneaked into the Kalazhuole village in Altay district at about 2am, hungry for sheep. The noise they made alerted five nearby families, who tried to drive the wolves away. In the confrontation, six villagers were bitten or clawed.

Although none of the victims suffered life-threatening injuries, two were sent to hospital in Urumqi, the regional capital, for further treatment.

Local authorities then sent a team of more than 30 hunters and police officers to kill the wolves, but they could not be found.

The village is located in the middle of a large grassland with many reports of wolf activity. However, most wolf attacks tend to occur in winter, when food supplies run short. Casualties involving human are rarely reported in summer.

The website quoted Professor Yang Weikang, biologist with the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography, as saying that intensifying confrontations in Xinjiang between humans and wild animals in recent years have severely reduced the animals’ habitat and food supply.

Large-scale farming, road construction and mining projects are probably what drove the wolves to a human area in search of food, he said.

Government statistics show that more than 5,000 cattle have been killed by wolves annually in recent years.

China used to have one of the world’s largest wolf populations, with distribution mainly in Xinjiang, Inner Mongolia and the northeast provinces.

Massive hunting reduced the wolves to near extinction in the 1970s, but the wolf population has been on the rise again because of hunting bans and the grassland protection policy.