Posted by: Loren Coleman on March 8th, 2007
The world’s smallest variety of wolf, the Japanese wolf, also called the Honshu Wolf (Canis lupus hodophilax), supposedly became extinct in 1905 in Nara prefecture. But did some survive beyond that date? And was there physical proof of this, in 1910 in Fukui prefecture?
Sightings of the Japanese wolf persist to the present. A new debate is occurring currently in Japan that the extinction date may have been incorrect, almost immediately.
Intriguingly, finding a taxidermy example of the Honshu Wolf presently is quite difficult. Only five mounted specimens are known worldwide, three in Japan, one in the Netherlands (which is pictured in Swift as a Swallow), and the supposedly final 1905 animal, which is located at the British Museum.
But was there another taxidermy mount that proved these wolves lived beyond 1905?
In Japan, a recent Asahi News discussion has surfaced regarding the photographs you see here. I am grateful to cryptozoology historian American Brent Swancer living in Japan, who has passed info from his translation along to me.
Supposedly killed in 1910 in Fukui, the Japanese wolf in the above photo is apparently genuine. The article explains that the last officially known Japanese wolf died in 1905, yet here is one that was allegedly killed in 1910.
Unfortunately, the body was destroyed in a fire, according to the article. The picture in the middle is a stuffed specimen of that last known Japanese wolf and the picture at the bottom is the farm where the wolf at top was shot.
The two photos today remain as the only real evidence that this wolf existed since the body has long since been destroyed.
In the Asahi News article there is a mention that in an issue of the Fukui agricultural magazine of the time, zoo staff had examined the animal the day after the shooting in 1910. They came to the conclusion that it was indeed a Japanese wolf. Unfortunately, it seems that that is as far as the examination went. It appears that those who advocate that this was a Japanese wolf point to that Fukui magazine article, as well as comparing the morphology of the animal pictured to data on the Japanese wolf. But it is inconclusive and not enough to change the common historical record that the last known specimen died in Nara in 1905. Brent Swancer