Defenders in Action: Apache Wilderness Journeys

For centuries, the White Mountain Apache have lived in the canyons and forests of the American Southwest—a vast expanse of land where Mexican gray wolves once thrived. And even though, in recent years, these magnificent animals have been living as little more than long shadows on the landscape after settlers and government agencies nearly drove them to extinction, the lobo remains a revered thread in the fabric of Apache tradition.

The Problem

Over the last decade, vocal anti-wolf groups have spent much time and effort to paint Mexican wolves as a threat to the southwest. Because of the scarcity of the animals, few people have had the opportunity to appreciate the value they bring to the southwest landscape.

How We’re Helping

For many years, Defenders of Wildlife has worked closely with  the White Mountain Apache Tribe in its efforts to restore Mexican wolves to their native lands—providing equipment and training to tribal wildlife staff and offering technical assistance to the tribe’s livestock owners. Defenders’ members and supporters—through the Wildlife Volunteer Corps—have also helped out, rolling up their sleeves alongside the tribe to prepare for the first wolf-themed ecotours in the region.

In 2010, we helped the tribe develop Apache Wilderness Journeys, a unique weeklong 6-day culture and wildlife tour into the heart of the Southwest. Apache guides take visitors on expeditions into the Tribe’s remote, lush forests for a chance to hear or see the world’s rarest wolf in the wild and learn about efforts to restore other imperiled wildlife such as Mexican spotted owls and Apache trout. The tour lets people experience firsthand the Apache way of life through crafts, storytelling and traditional meals and helps them appreciate the cultural value of Mexican wolves.

Where We Are Today

The tribe offered two tours in June 2011 and 20 people participated. They are currently making plans to offer similar trips in the near future.

Watch the Video

See highlights of the Apache Wilderness Journey tour.

More on Mexican Gray Wolf: Success Stories »

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Press Release
"While the increase comes as good news for these highly endangered animals, the small population of 58 lobos is still extremely vulnerable. Wolves are smart, adaptable animals, but they can’t make it alone. New releases of wolves in Arizona and New Mexico are urgently needed to ensure a healthy population." - Eva Sargent, southwest director, Defenders of Wildlife
Where We Work
Our Southwest team works to protect rare and threatened species like Mexican wolves, jaguars and ocelots.
Grizzly Bear, © Ray Rafiti
Conservation Issue
We work to create and share strategies to encourage peaceful coexistence between people and wildlife.
Fact Sheet
Mexican gray wolves once numbered in the thousands and roamed the wilds of the southwest. But today, after a century of persecution, only a few remain in the wild.
Where We Work
Our Southwest team works to protect rare and threatened species like Mexican wolves, jaguars and ocelots.
In the Magazine
When it comes to endangered Mexican gray wolves in the Southwest every one counts—and so do partnerships.