This new documentary from BBC Earth explores the diversity of canid species, the reasons for their success and the threats they face.
From an old shipping container to a crucial field lab!
All the way back in 2020, work began to install a brand new field lab at EWCP HQ in Dinsho, Bale Mountains National Park. A facility was sorely needed as a base of veterinary operations, to process and store samples, and conduct post-mortems. The project started with the arrival of a repurposed shipping container, freshly customised and kitted out at the Born Free Foundation’s Kotteh Wildlife Rescue Sanctuary near Addis, by a team headed by Bereket Girma.
When I described my new position in EWCP and mentioned that I would be going to Ethiopia to work on Ethiopian wolves, my friend Emilie exclaimed: “oh! so you are a biologist studying an endangered species in a war zone!” I froze… Was that really what I would be doing? Technically, yes, the Ethiopian wolf is classified as “Endangered” and indeed, Ethiopia is currently having some conflicts… so she was correct in a sense. What would the reality be like over there?
Vaccination works: an outbreak contained
We are marking this World Rabies Day by celebrating a recent win for the wolves in the campaign against the disease.
By Dr Jorgelina Marino
At the peak of the rainy season the EWCP team have been busy in the highlands of Delanta in North Wollo. Until recently one of the epicentres of the war, signs of fighting are still evident. Particularly in the nearby Gashena town, a strategic location at the crossroads to three main cities, taken and recovered three times at the cost of many lives.
The Bale Mountains receives me with their familiar contours against the crisp blue sky. At the EWCP headquarters, the place I love and call home, a warthog keeps me company. Eric and the team have left ahead of me to start the wolf captures in earnest before Ramadan begins.
Ethiopia and its people are facing very troubling and unsettling times. Fortunately all EWCP staff, their families, our close colleagues and partners are well, and this is a welcome relief to us all.
Ethiopian wolves may not look like the first animals you think when you hear the word wolf, but these rare canids are as much a wolf as any other. One of previously four Canis species in Africa (now just two following the recent reclassification of black-backed and side-stripped jackals), they are readily distinguishable from jackals by their larger size, relatively longer legs, distinctive reddish coat and white markings. Although often called the Simien fox or red fox (ky kebero in Amharic, Jeedala Faarda in Oromic), DNA phylogenetic analysis has revealed that the Ethiopian wolf is more closely related to the grey wolf and the coyote than to any African canid. Most likely, the Ethiopian wolf evolved from a grey wolf-like ancestor that crossed to northern Africa via land bridges from Eurasia as recently as 100,000 years ago, when Afroalpine habitats in Ethiopia covered vast extensions.
The Wildlife Conservation Network (WCN) protects endangered wildlife by supporting conservationists who ensure wildlife and people coexist and thrive. An incredible community of conservationists, supporters and staff all united by our passion for life.
Wildlife has been a major focus of conversations surrounding the pandemic, from its origins to its impacts and lessons for the future. We have seen some animals flourish where human activity has dwindled, while others have been less fortunate and may be at risk where tourism has vanished. Conservation action has of course also been affected, as a wide range of activities are no longer possible due to the risks of spreading infection. Our own work has been significantly disrupted in Ethiopia since April as a result of Covid-19.
2020 has so far seen a lot of disruption to our work, just as it has for many organisations. We’ve limited our fieldwork to ensure the safety of our teams and the local communities we work with, and international staff are unable to travel to Ethiopia. Fortunately, there are many tasks we can work on from home and we’ve taken advantage of the time to focus on our research outputs, aided greatly by the addition of researcher Beth Preston.
We are used to responding to large-scale threats to the wolves, like habitat loss and disease, but the acts of individuals can have a real impact, both good and bad. We have recently seen a worrying resurgence in behaviours that can threaten wolf survival.
An exciting discovery was recently made in the Bale Mountains, home to the largest Ethiopian wolf population.
An international team of researchers, supported by EWCP, visited the Fincha Habera rock shelter at the edge of the Web Valley, where their excavations revealed evidence of human occupation dating as far back as 47,000 years ago! This makes their finding the world’s oldest occupation of a residential site at high elevation, in this case an astonishing 3,469m above sea level.
The Amhara region encompasses most of Ethiopia’s highlands north and west of the Rift Valley. Here you can find the source of the Blue Nile, Lake Tana, and the breath-taking Simien Mountains, but also a less well-known Menz-Guassa Community Conservation Area (MGCCA). This highland plateau is diverse in wildlife and home to many animals found only in Ethiopia, such as the Ethiopian wolf, the gelada baboon, and several rodent species.