The Ethiopian wolf is one of only three 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 threats to Ethiopian wolves are posed by the encroachment of livestock and agriculture into the wolves' territory, as well as 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 fewer than 500 wolves remaining in the wild, any further loss of habitat or disease outbreaks can have the potential to devastate the few remaining Ethiopian wolf populations.
The Ethiopian Wolf Conservation Program (EWCP) 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 local communities and the Ethiopian government to protect the unique habitat where Ethiopian wolves are found.
"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
Wolves and people share the precious Afroalpine land and depend on the same natural resources for survival. EWCP works both with local communities and with protected areas managers to promote sustainable land use and initiate biodiversity-friendly micro-enterprises. Thorough understanding of the wolf’s habitat has helped to ensure that now 80% of the wolf habitat is under some form of protection.
EWCP has vaccinated domestic dogs against rabies and canine distemper for many years, helping to prevent the spread of these diseases to the Ethiopian wolf population, while also contributing to the welfare of humans and their livestock. EWCP is now starting an oral vaccination campaign to protect Ethiopian wolves from deadly diseases, bringing them another step away from the edge of extinction.
Monitoring and Awareness
With expert wolf monitors and a network of local Wolf Ambassadors spread across the highlands of Ethiopia, EWCP keeps an eye on every wolf population, following the lives of many packs, monitoring for emerging threats at an early stage, and raising awareness among all stakeholders of these threats and of the benefits of conservation.
Ethiopians employed by EWCP
Domestic dogs vaccinated against disease every year by EWCP
Families benefitting from sustainable livelihoods promoted by EWCP
Dr. Claudio Sillero and Dr. Jorgelina Marino
Dr. Claudio Sillero grew up on a cattle ranch in Argentina surrounded by animals, which shaped his desire to dedicate his life to working with them, especially with Africa's large carnivores. In 1985 he enrolled in a Masters program in Nairobi and while in Kenya was offered a job in Ethiopia, to study the rare Ethiopian wolf, a species he had to look up in a book because he had never heard of them before. What began as a research project turned into a lifelong career, and in 1995, he founded EWCP with the goal of conserving the Ethiopian wolf.
Hailing from the same town as Claudio, Dr. Jorgelina Marino, Claudio’s wife, works beside him to ensure a secure future for Ethiopian wolves. Jorgelina studied biology in the Patagonian Andes and made her way to Ethiopia in 1997. There, captivated by the mountains, the people, and the wolves, she surveyed every remnant wolf population and explored new frontiers of research, discovering what made Ethiopian wolf populations tick and how families carved and defended their territories. In the Bale Mountains, the two of them grew their family and this project, which expanded from a small group of 8 people in 1997 to more than 60 employees today, with new offices in four other mountains—all of which are a result of Jorgelina’s determination to not give up on any of the surviving wolf populations, no matter how small or remote.
How You Can Help
$500 helps local school children understand the Ethiopian 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.
If you weren't able to make it to the 2017 Fall Wildlife Conservation Expo or if you missed any of the presentations, fear not! We've uploaded them all for your viewing pleasure.