Wild Tracks

On behalf of the world's wild species

Meet The Carnivore #3

Our Friday What In The World Critter was an Ethiopian Wolf (Canis simensis)

Ethiopian wolf by Claudio Sillero

The Ethiopian Wolf, also known as the Abyssinian wolf, Abyssinian fox, red jackal, Simien fox, or Simien jackal is a canid native to Africa. The numerous names reflect previous uncertainty about its taxonomic position, but it is now thought to be related to the wolves of the genus Canis rather than the foxes it resembles.

The Ethiopian wolf is the top predator of their ecosystem. They are the most endangered canid species in the world, with roughly 550 animals surviving in seven small, isolated populations. The largest population is found in the Bale Mountains in southern Ethiopia, although there are also smaller populations in the Semien Mountains in the north of the country, and in a few other areas.

Claudio Sillero-Zubiri at the University of Oxford is the zoologist  most closely associated with efforts to save this species, particularly with his work for an oral rabies vaccine to protect them from the disease passed from local dogs. A rabies outbreak in 1990 reduced the largest known population, found in the Bale Mountains National Park, from about 440 wolves to less than 160 in only two weeks.

Currently, the Ethiopian wolf is a national symbol, having been used in two stamp series. There are not many traditional uses for the Ethiopian wolf, though its liver may be used for medicinal reasons in the northern regions of the country.

In the past the Ethiopian wolf was feared as a livestock predator, but today it is not considered a major threat to livestock, to the point where sheep and goats are sometimes left unattended in areas where wolves occur. In the southern highlands, losses caused by wolf predation are mostly dismissed due to the rarity of such events when compared to predation by the Spotted Hyena and jackals.

Read more at the IUCN Canid Specialist Group web page

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