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Thursday, 5 December, 2002, 17:44 GMT
Mobile phone saves shepherd's skin
Wolves howling
The wolves were chased away by farmers' dogs
For shepherds it goes with the job - a pack of wolves swoops down from the mountains, forcing you to take refuge in a walnut tree.

Map of the region
It has been happening for centuries, and it happened again in Greece this week - except this time the shepherd had a mobile telephone to help him cry wolf.

Teofilos Amarantidis was "literally trembling" as the pack of 19 hungry animals circled the base of the tree, reports the Athens News Agency.

But he managed somehow to punch in the numbers, and luckily there was enough of a signal for him to make the call that saved his life.

Goats eaten

Within an hour, other farmers in the area had arrived with their fearsome sheep dogs, which chased the wolves away.

Mountains of southern Bulgaria
Wolf country: Mountains of southern Bulgaria
To begin with, 23-year-old Teofilos noticed only one wolf, but it was big enough and menacing enough to prompt him to take evasive action.

The other wolves closed in only after he jumped from his mule into the tree.

The rescue party got him down from the tree, and took him home.

The event took place near the city of Drama, in the vicinity of the Bulgarian border, near an uninhabited village called Melissochori.

A few hours later wolves - possibly the same pack - ate 10 goats near another uninhabited village called Mikrohori.

No guns

Farmers are forbidden from using guns against the wolves because they are protected by international treaties.

One of the party of farmers who rescued Teofilos said the wolves had come across the border from Bulgaria.

They reportedly crossed back into Bulgaria after eating the goats.

What happened to Teofilos's mule is not known.

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