PROWLING wolves have been spotted on the outskirts of Rome for the first time in more than a century.
The predatory beasts were captured on hidden cameras at a nature reserve on the edge of a busy ring road circling the city.
They have not been seen in the Italian capital -whose symbol is a she-wolf suckling Romulus and Remus – for at least 100 years.
The cameras captured a pair of mature cubs drinking from a watering hole in the undergrowth of the Castel di Guido reserve.
Experts believe there are at least two cubs and two adults living in the reserve. The male adult has already been nicknamed Romulus by researchers.
“This is the first time in more than 100 years that wolves have been found living near Rome,” Professor Alessia De Lorenzis who is monitoring the pack told The Telegraph.
“We’re very pleased that they are back.”
Analysis of the wolves’ excrement revealed they had been living on the wild boar which roam the countryside in large numbers.
“We think they probably arrived here from the area around Lake Bracciano, north of Rome, where wolves have always existed, even when the species was pushed towards extinction,” said Prof De Lorenzis.
Killing wolves was encouraged in Italy until the 1970s, by which time only 100 or so individuals remained in Italy.
But the species was given protected status in 1971 and has since gradually recovered.
Last month, we told how wolves and jackals had apparently mauled a retired university professor to death while she was holidaying in Greece.
When Ceilia Hollingworth’s body was found “shredded to pieces” last Saturday in the northern region of Rodopi, officials initially feared she had been savaged by wild hounds.
Explaining her cause of death, coroner Nikolaos Kifinidis said: “It seems like she may have been attacked by other wild animals, like rabid wolves and jackals.”
The legend of Romulus and Remus – and what’s it got to do with wolves?
Rhea was a princess married to Mars the mighty Roman god of war.
Rhea and Mars had twin sons and named them Romulus and Remus.
The other gods were jealous and plotted to kill the twins but Rhea learned of the plan.
She put her boys in a basket and set it floating down ariver hoping they would be saved.
The twins were found by a female wolf who decided to raise them as her own cubs.
As they grew the wolf knew she couldn’t keep them so she left them for a shepherd to find.
The shepherd and his wife continued to raise Romulus and Remus.
As the boys grew into manhood, they decided to build a city to rule.
They then had a contest to see who would become the overall ruler.
When it seemed Remus was about to win, Romulus killed him with a rock.
This is supposed to be how Rome got its name.