The Abune Yosef massif is one of the largest Afroalpine areas in Northern Ethiopia. Here, Ethiopian wolves roam in mountaintops surrounded by steep escarpments, spreading agriculture and sacred churches.
The Ethiopian wolf, Canis simensis, is one of the most vulnerable large carnivores in Africa and the rarest canid species worldwide, with an estimated population of fewer than 500 adults. The Amhara wolf population, north of the Rift Valley, is distinct from the southeastern Bale and Arsi populations, and under greater pressure.
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.
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.
By Girma Eshete
Delanta is a small isolated Afroalpine flat south of Abune Yosef and Aboi Gara, home for 16-19 estimated wolves before 2016. Human settlement, farming and the encroachment of domestic animals, especially dogs, caused a canine distemper outbreak in 2017 that sadly decimated all the wolves of Delanta. After this disastrous event EWCP continued monitoring the habitat remotely with Wolf Ambassador Esubalew Milashu, hoping the area could serve as a potential wolf reintroduction site in future. Our Wolf Ambassadors are members of the community that act as ears and eyes in remote areas that are difficult for us to access regularly.
It’s a long way to the Simien Mountains.
While slowly climbing the Ethiopian massif, in the north of the country, the world passes by my window. A land divided into infinite agriculture plots, dotted by small villages. Most crops have already been harvested and the fields are now ploughed. It’s the season for green peas, which later at our campsite are offered to us, toasted and accompanied by cloudy corofe, a local drink made out of barley.