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23 April 2014

 

Eric Bedin - New Field Coordinator

Last January Eric joined the EWCP Team as the new Field Coordinator. Originally from Tarbes in the French Pyrenees, and after studies in livestock production and agriculture, Eric spent seven years working on the reintroduction of Arabian oryx in Saudi Arabia. This was followed by a stint of four years as the technical adviser of the Gile National Reserve in Mozambique.

Eric has a broad experience on conservation issues, from captive breeding to reintroduction to law enforcement, and is particularly interested in community-based projects. His passion for wildlife and the last remaining wilderness naturally led him to join the EWCP and to offer his broad experience to help us conserve one of the rarest canids in the world. Eric loves his rugby, scuba-diving, wildlife photography and good food. Three months on Eric is still wondering whether he likes the cold weather of the Bale Mountains.

 

Help wolves, buy a 'ky kebero' T-shirt


The Ky Kebero online t-shirt store opened in August 2013, administered by volunteer Alyson Baker from New Zealand, and hosted by the custom t-shirt platform Spreadshirt. All proceeds from the store go to EWCP

 

Hope for wolves in the new Borena Sayint National Park

By Jorgelina Marino & Gebeyehu Rskay
Away from the traditional tourism route, the highlands of South Wollo are amongst the most remote and less studied. Thanks to centuries of protection these highlands preserve one of the last relicts of continuous natural habitats, from Afroalpine grasslands and Erica forests to biodiversity-rich montane forests. And the good news is that the existing Denkoro Forest Reserve was recently expanded into the Borena Sayint National Park (BSNP), which now encompasses all Afroalpine habitats and the wolves they sustain.
In October 2013 we conducted a comprehensive survey in collaboration with the park, involving EWCP staff from Bale and North Ethiopia, including the two local, young and enthusiastic, Wolf Ambassadors. In teams of two we walked 83km over 5 days and sighted 14 wolves of a vibrant red.
The BSNP has an abundant prey base that could sustain up to 40-50 wolves, more than what we had predicted a decade ago. But there is no room for complacency. Habitat loss and fragmentation are significant, as agriculture carves out the increasingly narrow habitat corridors, and uncontrolled firewood extraction degrades wolf habitat. Newly built roads with increasing traffic run along corridors and ridge tops.
The survey helped cementing EWCP's relationship with BSNP, and for the coming year we plan further training and equipment for park experts, research on land use impacts, and the development of a resources management strategy to ensure that wolves and people can continue to share these remote mountains.

 

Saving fuel, saving wolves



By Fekadu Lema
Most Ethiopians still rely on traditional forms of energy, such as firewood, unwittingly causing deforestation, soil erosion and creating health problems. For the people in the northern highlands the main source of energy is a bush locally known as 'charranfe'. Charranfe heaths dominate many Afroalpine landscape in North Ethiopia, offering important habitat for rodents andf wolves.
After registering alarming levels of firewood extraction in threatened wolf populations, we started a Fuel Saving initiative in two areas: Delanta-Gubalaftu in Wollo and Mt Guna in Gondar. With funding from the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund and in collaboration with the Energy Coordination Office of GIZ, a German NGO, our team conducted socio-economic assessments, broad consultations with local stakeholders, and awareness campaigns. We are now busy with the next step, which is establishing micro-enterprises for two selected members of the community who will produce fuel saving stoves locally. The stoves they will produce can reduce firewood consumption by half, and have been amply tested by GIZ in the Ethiopian highlands. We are very excited with this project and we look forward to introduce you to the stove makers in the near future.

 

EWCP's parades for World Rabies Day



By Zegeye Kibret
Last September the world joined again to raise awareness on the importance of rabies prevention. Rabies is the oldest and deadliest disease known to mankind, and also the most immediate threat to the survival of Ethiopian wolves. EWCP partnered the Global Alliance for Rabies Control to supported World Rabies Day in Bale for a sixth consecutive time. We gathered in Gamataja School in a village adjacent to the Ethiopian wolf strongholds, where the students prepared poems, a quiz and posters with ingenious mottos and slogans. Some 400 children participated of a short parade shouting 'stop rabies', 'vaccinate your dogs' and 'protect the Ethiopian wolf'. Children are a great vehicle to persuade their families to combat this terrible disease, so that wolves and their livestock are protected. In her speech Dr Tigist Belete from the Goba Animal Agency, sent a clear message: 'help us to help save all of us, especially to save the endangered Ethiopian wolf from a brink of extinction'. On behalf of EWCP I would like to thank everyone who made this event possible, and in particular Gamataja School and the Goba Woreda administration.

09 March 2010

 

Fun and games (and no rain) at the 12th annual Wolf Day in Dinsho.


Anne-Marie Stewart

On Sunday the 7th of March, we held our 12th Wolf Day in Dinsho, and all anyone could think about was, “Please let the rain hold off!”

For the past two weeks it hasn’t stopped raining here – the normally tranquil streams have turned into raging rivers that are in danger of breaking their banks, while the roads and dirt tracks in town are slippery mud slides that threaten to send you sliding headlong into a puddle. So understandably we were all concerned that Wolf Day could turn into a mud bath!

However, the weather, for once, was on our side, and although the rain clouds gathered ominously over the mountains, in Dinsho we were treated to patches of blue sky and sunshine.

The day opened with a blessing from the village elders, and then the Bale Beauty Nature Club presented us with a cake they had baked, marking the 12th Wolf Day for EWCP (the cake didn’t last very long, as the invited guests and dignitaries were keen to sample the best of Bale baking!).

Numerous sports matches were held during the day, with the EWCP Wolf team facing the Dinsho Club in the football finals. Unfortunately EWCP went down one-nil, but all the players did very well while having to deal with a horribly sodden pitch. Two volleyball matches, the final of the primary school football league, and the 5000m race concluded the sporting part of the day. We were also treated to various plays and singing competitions, as well as an art display from the Dinsho Primary School. A pot-smashing game and a raffle brought the proceedings for the day to a close, and all the EWCP staff breathed a sigh of relief. Another successful Wolf Day, the rain stayed away, and the community came together once again to celebrate the Ethiopian wolf and the afroalpine. A big thank you to all the EWCP staff who ensured that the day ran smoothly.

Drama on Wolf Day



A very soggy field


2nd place trophy for the Wolf Team

10 November 2009

 

Field trip to northern Ethiopia


By Anne-Marie Stewart & Chris Gordon


We are spoilt in Bale, not only with wolf sightings, but with the relative lack of steep mountains! This was our impression after returning from our first field trip to the north of Ethiopia, two weeks ascending mountains and trekking through wheat fields, visiting the Ethiopian wolf populations in these areas. EWCP works with the Frankfurt Zoological Society (FZS) to monitor the wolves here and to educate school children and community members about the importance and benefits of Afroalpine conservation.
Our team spent five days camped in Abuna Yoseph, an area in North Wollo where we estimate there to be a population of approximately 20 wolves, and then a further five days in the Simien Mountains National Park, where the third largest population of Ethiopian wolves is found. Abuna Yoseph does not lie within a protected area, and the effects of rapid human expansion can be all too easily seen. Cattle and goats graze high into the Afroalpine, and we encountered barley fields at over 4,000m asl! However the wolves do persist in these areas, and we were lucky enough to have five sightings of adult wolves during our stay. We also had the chance to train two FZS para-ecologists – members of the local community who will help us to collect valuable environmental data.
The local people we met in Abuna Yoseph expressed their desire to see the wolves survive, and the challenge for us lies in reconciling the needs of a growing human population in the Afroalpine, with the increasingly urgent need to conserve these areas.

In Simien we were confronted with a similar scenario, with a growing human presence and agriculture expansion evident both within and surrounding the Park. However, there are many areas of good wolf habitat and we did manage to spot three adult wolves while monitoring in the Park, as well as various other fascinating endemic species, such as the walia ibex and the gelada baboon. The local people living within the Park were very positive about the wolves, realizing their value and the potential benefits they could bring as a tourist attraction.

07 October 2009

 

Rabies Day 2009 in Dinsho


















We are against rabies! Dhukkuba saree ni balaaleffanna!” A small band of demonstrators is marching towards us, placards waving, fists raised. It’s not quite a G8 protest, but this group is equally fervent about their cause. Rabies must be eradicated in their town!



It’s September 28th, Rabies Day 2009, and the Dinsho Primary School, situated on the boundary of the Bale Mountains National Park, has organised a demonstration to show their commitment to stamping out rabies in the area in order to protect the endangered Ethiopian wolf. The children, ranging in age from eight to 15 years old, made their own posters and banners highlighting the cause, and after marching through the town chanting their slogans, ended up in the grounds of the school where a presentation had been organised by some of the other pupils. This included a poetry reading by one of the students, as well as a play written and acted out by three pupils to highlight the dangers of rabies within the community and the threat the disease poses to the Ethiopian wolves.



















Rabies is transmitted by domestic dogs from the villages surrounding and within the National Park, and is fatal to the wolves. Outbreaks have occurred in 2003, 2008 and most recently in May 2009, and have caused significant losses to the wolf population in the Bale Mountains. The Rabies Day event, coordinated by the EWCP education officer, was attended by local community administrators and elders, as well as other EWCP staff and school pupils. Not even a sudden downpour could dampen the enthusiasm of the children, and they made sure that everyone understood their message: “Save the Ethiopian wolf! Jeedala fardaa haa kunuunsinu!


Anne-Marie Stewart

EWCP Field director


10 September 2009

 

After the outbreak: Post–intervention monitoring


Following on from the recent Ethiopian wolf vaccinations during May and June, life has settled down somewhat in the Bale Mountains. The EWCP monitoring team has been deployed to Sanetti (the vaccination site) and back to Morebawa (the outbreak site). We also have a constant presence in the Web Valley (the October outbreak site). The good news is that no wolf carcasses have been found since the end of vaccinations in June. The two carcasses found on the Sanetti Plateau during the vaccinations tested negative for rabies. As they were both juveniles, they most likely died naturally – this time of year sees high mortality in wolves of this age, due to them being independent and struggling to find food.

We have had repeated visits to the packs where we were vaccinating in Sanetti. All wolves except one have been observed since they were vaccinated. This is an exceptionally high return rate, a great effort by the monitoring team.

We recently had further good news on the return of the team from Morebawa. During the outbreak, the team had only seen 26 live wolves, and so it was feared that as many as 70 were dead or missing. However, we have now sighted 32 live wolves, and we know that seven of the eleven packs still have an adult male and an adult female. Retaining this breeding pair will be crucial for ensuring a rapid recovery of wolf numbers in this area.

All the monitoring team have worked exceptionally hard, and we are lucky to have such dedicated and skilled staff.

19 June 2009

 

Vaccinating Ethiopian Wolves


Rabies Outbreak in the Bale Mountains – Vaccinating Ethiopian Wolves

Posted: 19 Jun 2009 02:03 AM PDT

It’s 2am on the Sanetti Plateau. And it’s cold. Very cold. There’s no wind, no sound at all in fact. With the sleeping bag pulled over my head it’s only through a small crack that I can see the light from the full moon filtering through the tent fabric. Then suddenly the silence is shattered by a slightly out-of-breath cry: “Wolf!” Ibrahim, our vet assistant, has just checked the traps and has run back to report that we’ve caught a wolf! There is an immediate flurry of activity in the surrounding tents. Beanies and gloves are hastily pulled on, vet supplies are checked, someone grabs a large blanket, and we’re off. In the moonlight it’s easy to find our way over the deserted landscape, towards the trap where our Ethiopian wolf awaits.

Sanetti camping © EWCP

As we near the trap site, we hang back while Ibrahim and Alo spread the blanket between them and make their way towards the wolf. Suddenly they break into a run, and in a flash have thrown the blanket over the surprised wolf and are holding it on the ground. As soon as it is covered, the wolf relaxes, and the rest of us rush in to assist with the vaccinations.

Sanetti vaccinations © EWCP

It’s an adult male, he’s in good health and probably weighs about 17kg. From his size, coat colour and teeth wear, Claudio reckons he’s the dominant male of the pack. Leta quickly gives him two doses of rabies vaccine, one on each hindquarter, and attaches a blue tag to his left ear for identification purposes.

Sanetti vaccinations © EWCP

His legs are checked for any trap injuries, and within five minutes he’s ready to be released. Alo loosens his hold on the wolf’s body and as soon as we remove the cloth covering his eyes, he’s off into the night, turning only once to look back at us before running off. All in a night’s work.

Sanetti vaccinations © EWCP

Sanetti vaccinations © EWCP

That was wolf number four from Nyala pack – only one more to catch and we can move on to the next pack.Over the past two weeks the Ethiopian Wolf Conservation Programme (EWCP) team has been camped at over 4,000m above sea level on the Sanetti plateau, running a vaccination campaign to prevent a rabies outbreak from spreading through the wolf population. EWCP wolf monitors first noticed something was wrong when they returned from a trip to the West Morebawa population – 11 wolf carcasses were found and samples sent to laboratories returned positive results for rabies. The EWCP team, based in the Bale Mountains, was given permission by the Ethiopian Wildlife Conservation Authority to vaccinate 50 wolves in the Sanetti population against rabies, with the aim of isolating the outbreak and stopping its spread. We sprung into action and managed to successfully vaccinate a total of 48 wolves in 9 packs, making sure that at least one female in each pack was vaccinated. For now, the threat of rabies seems to have been contained, but for how long? Interventions like these are a costly exercise, requiring a hefty investment in terms of both finances and EWCP resources. And it only takes one rabid dog to come into contact with one Ethiopian wolf for the disease to spread like wildfire. Left unchecked, a rabies outbreak could have devastating effects on a species that numbers less than 450 animals in the world today.

Sanetti scenery © EWCP

The Ethiopian Wolf Conservation Programme has to tackle emergency rabies outbreaks like this as soon as it can and therefore funds are vital in order to purchase vaccinations.  Any funds you would are able to offer will be very well spent protecting the Ethiopian wolf from extinction.


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