Wolf behaviour – particularly during a hunt – perfectly exemplifies the benefits in nature of collaboration, teamwork and cooperation. Fewer than half of the members of a wolf pack on a hunt are seemingly engaged in the actual hunt. Yet each wolf in the pack knows its role, its capabilities and limitations. Any mistakes made in the pursuit of their prey can be fatal.
Juvenile wolves mostly do nothing more than observe and learn from the sidelines. Females, often lightly built are quick and take on herding roles, darting among the prey, causing confusion and preventing escape. Slower but more powerful males are able to take down a large animal more aggressively and quickly. The mob scene at the time of a kill is a defensive measure to overwhelm larger prey who die as a result of exhaustion and shock.
Wolves have a brain size up to a third larger than domestic canines – and so should we be surprised at their ability to collaborate as a team in a kill? Biologists have documented their ability to tread through standing water to mask their scent and open doors by turning the doorknob after having watched humans doing it. Their complex hunting strategies is learned behaviour, adapted through intuition depending on the environment and the prey. As curious creatures they will inspect and play with unusual items, developing an ability to find out more about things, serving them well in their survival instincts to track and kill prey.
While collaboration, cooperation and teamwork forms the basis for the survival of the wolf, it also underpins human achievement from hunter-gatherers to builders of Jumbo Jets. Ecosystems also thrive when collaboration, cooperation and teamwork are the abiding rules of engagement.
Following the reintroduction of the Gray Wolf into Yellowstone their presence has revitalized and restored the park’s ecosystem. The population and behaviour of their prey has altered foraging patterns and changed the landscape. Various species of birds and fish have returned to the park, and rivers have changed course — surprisingly restoring the health and balance of the entire ecosystem.
It would seem that if a near perfect place like Yellowstone National Park can be revitalized and significantly enhanced, any organisational ecosystem has the potential to be rejuvenated with a focus on enabling purposeful collaboration, cooperation and teamwork to achieve more.