The Ethiopian wolf is one of only two wolf species living in Africa and is also the rarest and most endangered canid in the world. The highly social wolves live high in the rugged mountains of Ethiopia, Africa’s rooftop, where their complex interactions fascinate the researchers who study them.
Ethiopia currently has the fastest growing human population in Africa. The increasing presence of humans in the Ethiopian highlands creates complex challenges for the wolves. The most serious threat is posed by contact with domestic dogs that carry diseases such as rabies and domestic distemper. When the wolves come in contact with these diseases, three out of four affected wolves die. With less than 500 wolves remaining in the wild, these disease outbreaks have the potential to devastate the remaining Ethiopian wolf population.
The Ethiopian Wolf Conservation Program has played an instrumental role in helping the people of Ethiopia learn about and protect this special animal that lives only in their country. EWCP has also been able to work closely with the Ethiopian government to create a plan to protect the remaining wolves.
"Peering into the Ethiopian wolf’s intimate social life allows you to recognize very subtle behaviors, until you can anticipate their next move. It is the same level of knowledge and understanding as in human relationships when you know someone well enough to guess what they will do next."
- Dr. Claudio Sillero
A Unique Conservation Approach
The vaccination of domestic dogs against rabies and canine distemper helps to prevent the spread of these diseases to the Ethiopian Wolf population. EWCP’s vaccination programs in and around wolf habitats have helped to control the spread of disease, with no major outbreaks during the past few years. Vaccination programs also protect local people and their dogs from rabies and other diseases.
Monitoring the fragile Ethiopian wolf population allows EWCP to understand the wolf’s status and inform conservation strategies. Thorough understanding of the wolf’s habitat has helped to ensure that three-quarters of Ethiopia’s afroalpine land where the wolf lives is protected. Monitoring has also helped the EWCP team measure the effectiveness of vaccine programs.
EWCP works with governments, local authorities, farmers and school children to increase awareness of the Ethiopian wolf and the need to conserve the Afroalpine resources. Each year EWCP holds “Wolf Day” to celebrate the Ethiopian wolf, provide environmental education and thank the community for their goodwill towards EWCP.
The percentage of Ethiopian wolf afroalpine habitat now protected
Domestic dogs vaccinated against disease by EWCP
Dr. Claudio Sillero
Dr. Claudio Sillero grew up on a cattle ranch in Argentina, where he loved animals and knew that he one day wanted to visit Africa to see its large carnivores. In 1985 he enrolled in a Masters course in Nairobi and while in Kenya was offered a job in Ethiopia. As an Argentine farm boy with a passion for Africa wildlife, he felt he had found the opportunity of a lifetime to start a new research project – but had to look in a book to look up the species he was supposed to be studying, the Ethiopian wolf.
What started as a research project turned into a lifelong career. Claudio realized that while it was important to have research information, there was no purpose to studying a rare and uncertain species without working to conserve it. In 1994, he founded EWCP, which now employs between 30 and 50 Ethiopians at any given time.
When people tell Claudio that the wolves are lucky to have him as a protector, he says that it is he who is fortunate to have spent so much time with these gorgeous animals.
How You Can Help
$500 helps local school children understand the Ethopian wolf through class visits, Nature Clubs and printed environmental education materials.
$1800 vaccinates 250 domestic dogs living near the Ethiopian wolf against rabies, preventing the spread of this disease to the wolves.
A donation of any amount can help care for the EWCP team of horses, the best mode of transportation in the Ethiopian highlands.
When you designate your donation to a specific species, 100% of your donation will go directly to the field to support this species.
The Ethiopian wolf hangs precariously close to extinction, but also offers one of the greatest stories of hope for successful conservation today. Photographers Will Burrard-Lucas and Rebecca Jackrel traveled to the highlands of Ethiopia to document the lives of these elegant canids and the work that the Ethiopian Wolf Conservation Program does to preserve the species for future generations.