Unequal Brothers – Wolves and Livestock Guardian Dogs

1 x 45 min / 1 x 52 min
Worldwide except for Germany

15 to 30, or maybe even 50,000 years ago, men brought the wolf into their midst and tamed him. Or was it the other way around – the wolf sought the proximity of man? At any rate humans used their tamed descendants to protect themselves from the very predator they originated. To this day, dogs guard livestock. But with the eradication of the large predators in the more densely populated Central and Western Europe, this ancient tradition broke off and the ”guardians of the herds” fell into oblivion. Soon, many of them became dying breeds of domestic animals, sharing the fate of their ancestors and adversaries. In a wilderness-without-predators world, they lost their occupation. But now, after more than a hundred years, a piece of old wilderness returns to us on quiet paws in the form of wolves. In the shadow of the wolves, their old opponents are experiencing an unexpected renaissance. This is the story we tell: the return of the wolves, and the subsequent return of the livestock guardian dogs, and how and why both together can open the door for a new coexistence together; a coexistence together of ”wilderness” and ”cultivated land” in modern Central Europe. With touching observations of puppies growing up in a flock of sheep on one side and wolf pups in a wolf family on the other, Two protagonists, closely related and yet so far. They share very different developments and tasks: the one protects the property of the people, his livestock; The other preserves the health of nature. A predator that selects especially sick and weak wild animals, but sheep and goats are prey, too. We experience the different socialization of the two: the young dog considering its flock of sheep as a family, and the young wolf growing into his pack. Our journey brings us to two different locations in Europe; the densely populated Central Europe, and the wilderness regions of Southern Europe. Characterized with pictures of primeval and new growing landscapes, what makes the European cultural landscapes an exciting stage. A stage at which our relationship to nature and wilderness becomes visible and is negotiated. Natural habitats contrast with agriculturally dominated landscapes and form the setting of the defining story of two ”quarreling siblings”, who meet again after many years. Like two opposing brothers, wolves and livestock guardian dogs are linked by their ancestry. Intelligence, willpower and high social competence are present in both. For the wolf sheep are prey, as for his relative these sheep are members of his herd. He is a ”wolf in sheep’s clothing”. His instincts are focused on protecting the herd. At this frontier, between wilderness and cultivated land, the two blood brothers met each other since the beginning of time. And today they meet again, with the livestock guardian dogs setting the boundaries for their wild relatives. In modern industrial and agricultural nations, such as Germany, an origin and ancient nature returns with animals, such as the wolf. The livestock guardian dogs are their antagonists and at the same time their teammates. Connected by their natural aversion to each other, wolf and dog can use and protect each other in a staggering way. Legally, the wolf is a species that is strictly protected under EU law. As a large adaptive predator, and from an ecological perspective, it plays a central role in our ecosystem. Therefore, humans must find suitable ways to coexist, as peacefully as possible, with this new and at the same time ancient species in their midst. A key assistant in this process is the livestock guardian dog. A very old companion of man, the livestock guardian dog has always been instrumental in ensuring that humans and wolf do not get too much in each other’s way. Its renaissance can be key to the sustainable return of wolves and other large predators to their ancient tribal areas, and at the same time, key to the dawn of a new understanding of nature and wildlife in 21st-century Europe.

Awards: NaturVision Filmfestival, Ludwigsburg (2020): NaturVision Filmmusikpreis (nominated)

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