Threatened Ethiopian wolves persist in small isolated Afroalpine enclaves

Jorgelina Marino a1
a1 Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, Zoology Department, University of Oxford, South Parks Road, Oxford, OX1 3PS, UK. E-mail: jorgelina.marino@zoo.ox.ac.uk


The Ethiopian wolf Canis simensis is endemic to the Afroalpine highlands of Ethiopia. Half of the world population, estimated at c. 500 individuals, lives in the Bale Mountains of southern Ethiopia. Little is known, however, about the presence of wolves and suitable habitat in other Afroalpine ranges. Assessing the distribution, abundance and threats to all extant populations is a conservation priority for this Critically Endangered canid. With these objectives in mind, surveys were conducted between 1997 and 2000 in the little known regions of Arsi, Wollo, Gondar and Shoa. Suitable habitat and resident wolves were found in all regions. Outside Bale the existence of six other isolated populations, including two previously undescribed, was confirmed. All were small, estimated at no more than 50 individuals, and some with <25 individuals. Two population extinctions were documented, and habitat loss to agriculture largely explained local extinctions in small habitat patches. While Bale remains crucial for the long-term persistence of this species, the finding of several small and threatened populations highlights the need for in situ conservation actions to be expanded to other regions of the Ethiopian highlands.

(Received September 10 2001)
(Revised March 4 2002)
(Accepted September 19 2002)

Key Words: Afroalpine highlands; Bale Mountains; Canis simensis; Ethiopia; wolf.