Research

Ethiopian Wolf Conservation Programme

Rare Ethiopian wolves persist high up in a few montane enclaves of Afroalpine habitat, where they prey upon the abundant rodent communities and live in large family packs with an intricate social organization. These specialized carnivores, close relatives of both grey wolves and coyotes, are only found in a half-dozen isolated mountain pockets of Ethiopia and fewer than 500 individuals survive, threatened by loss of highland habitats and disease. Informed by sound research, the Ethiopian Wolf Conservation Programme (EWCP) targets the greatest threats to the survival of Ethiopian wolves while promoting them as a flagship for the conservation of many of Ethiopia’s endemic species and natural resources.

The overall goal of EWCP is the conservation of the Ethiopian wolf and its Afroalpine habitat, while ensuring the social and economic well being of local communities, with a working strategy centred on the following objectives:

• To assess, address and counteract threats to the survival of Ethiopian wolves.
• To secure the conservation of Afroalpine biodiversity and ecological processes.
• To strengthen Ethiopia’s environmental sector, particularly biodiversity conservation.

The most pressing threats to wolves are diseases, particularly rabies transmitted by domestic dogs, which decimated populations in 1991, 2003 and 2008, and the loss and fragmentation of the Afroalpine habitat from expanding subsistence agriculture, overgrazing, road construction sheep farming, and ultimately climate change.

EWCP approach

The EWCP seeks to fulfil each element of WildCRU’s Conservation Quartet: research, education, community involvement and implementation, through its conservation work:

Research to inform conservation actions towards the completion of our goal. Since its inception research has been the foundation of EWCP and has greatly contributed to the success of the programme: after detailed studies in the mid 80s which unveiled the fascinating behavioural ecology of these wolves, research expanded into aspects of the species ecology, genetics, population ecology and disease prevalence and control.

Capacity building to increase the capability of Ethiopia in the field of ecology, biodiversity conservation and protected area management. EWCP trains Ethiopian nationals in aspects of natural resource management and wildlife conservation, develops partnerships, and transfers skills and knowledge to its EWCP field team and beyond.

Monitoring to assess Ethiopian wolf population trends, with a focus on Bale (since 1985) and other critical populations (since 2000), and the levels of grazing stock, domestic dogs, persecution and habitat loss affecting wolf status. Continuous monitoring works as a permanent alert system to detect incipient threats and epizootics.

Disease control and prevention to reduce the threat that diseases pose to the survival of the Ethiopian wolf, in a multi-pronged approach: prevent disease transmission from domestic dogs, to assess prevalence and threat of canid pathogens to wolves, implement and investigate a vaccination schemes to protect Ethiopian wolves.

Community education to involve local communities in the protection of Afroalpine natural resources. Conservation education and extension campaigns target governments, local authorities, farmers and school children within and surrounding wolf ranges.

Habitat protection to preserve areas of Afroalpine ecosystem in Ethiopia, particularly where wolves are found, so that exploitation of natural resources is maintained at sustainable levels.

EWCP is chiefly funded by the Born Free Foundation and the Wildlife Conservation Network. In borth Ethioipa we work in partnership with Frankfurt Zoological Society.

EWCP Annual Report April 2016 available to read here (PDF, 1.8 MB)