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25 August 2005


James Malcolm reports from Bale

Two of the wolf monitoring team visted the western extension of the Bale Mountains, in the Somcaro-Korduro region. In eight days in the field they covered almost all the areas of afro-alpine habitat and found three packs of wolves, with one pack of six. Locals reported two packs further west. A population in the neighborhood of 20-30 for the whole area seems reasonable and it is clear that it is not large population. Rodent densities are low.

The deaths of three domestic dogs of some as yet undiagnosed disease has been the focus of recent monitoring activity. Two of the dogs died in a village in an area of high wolf density, Morebowa, and two more dogs were sickly in the same area. Canine distemper is the most likely candidate for the disease and it could almost certainly be transmitted to the wolves. The entire monitoring team was in Morebowa a day after the dogs died and failed to find more sick dogs or sick wolves. Information collected at the local market and from our scouts sent to the remoter parts of the mountains have revealed no major dog mortaility We have sent parts of the monitoring team and a member of the vet team back to Morabowa to try to collect any analysable samples.

Leta Area our chief vet officier is away completing his undergraduate degree at Debub University. In his absence we have used vets from the Goba woreda for the vaccination program. We have concentrated on villages around the town of Goba. Edriss Ebu, the Programme Officer, reports both dogs and owners as increasingly ornery and we dream of the day when oral vaccines are in place.

The design for the first attempt to estimate wolf population densities other than by direct monitoring has been decided after extensive discussion. With invaulabe help from Lucy Tallents the transects for the Sanetti population have been set and Line Distance Sampling, the ultima thule of population estimation, will begin in early October. We hope to enlist support from the Bale Mountains National Park, the local woredas, and others to help with the census and hence involve them in our programme.

It is the school holidays so Zegaye, the environmental educator, has been able to devote time to the first EWCP newsletter, published in both English and Afaan Oromo and he is overseeing the improvement projects at Dinsho Elementary School funded by Global Friends as part of the Born Free programme. We had a successful meeting with the vice-principal and a biologist at the Robe Teachers College and expect to start a programme in the Fall of environmental and conservation talks for the future teachers.

EWCP's advance north into Arsi is progressing smoothly. We have an good office rented for six months in the south of the mountain range in the small town of Bekoji (famous for producing about half of the cadre of extraordinary distance runners from Ethiopia). The wolf monitors will operate from this area. We have been offered free office space in the capital of Arsi, Asella in the north of the range, and it is likely that the education officer and planning program will operate from Asella. A short workshop is planned on environmental education in Asella to introduce our project and review the best candidates for the new education position. We have strong support from the Head of Education for Arsi Zone and from the Zonal Office of Natural Resources.

There is every prospect of close and productive cooperation between EWCP with the Bale Mountains National Park which is recently invigorated by the help of Frankfort Zoological Society. A major development project for the whole area, instigated by Dr Stuart Williams former Field Director of EWCP, is due to get underway soon.

James Malcom, Dinsho, Bale. 25 August 2005

18 August 2005


News of Lucy's work in Bale

Having finished my final field surveys last month, I am currently entering data into the computer and preparing for the major analytical phase of my research. The last rodent grids were trapped in June, and these data will be used to test my rodent/vegetation forecasting model before being incorporated into the main dataset to develop the finished model. My last surveys were focussed on checking the accuracy of my habitat map, and surveying molerat activity in areas and habitats which I had not visited before, including beautiful Worgona Valley and swamp-laced Chafa Delacha. My next major task is to pull all of the prey, vegetation and remotely-sensed data together to create the Bale-wide map of resource abundance which will form the backbone of my thesis. I will be returning to England in August, and will be very sad to say farewell to the staff of the EWCP, and the wolves which they aim to protect.

Lucy Tallents, Dinsho, Bale. 18 August 2005

15 August 2005


July 2005, Lucy Tallents reports from the field

It has been a severe dry season in Bale, and as the date for the start of the rains arrived and passed with barely a cloud in the sky, small mammals became more and more pushed for food. The grass rats scampered about on the surface, and the molerats extended their burrows further into the drying borders of the swamps. They provided rich pickings and the Kotera wolves grew fat and sleek, but paradoxically now that the rains have come, life will become harder for these efficient hunters. The grasses and herbs are green and luxuriant, and the rats can quickly eat what they need and scurry into the safety of their underground burrows once more. Jaaba, Labduu, Saragee and Biddiiqaa must become more cunning and patient to catch their prey, and they are often seen on their bellies, with tail held low and ears back, creeping towards an unsuspecting molerat, hoping to get within pouncing distance. Saragee remains on the fringes but occasionally sleeps with the rest of the pack, provided Biddiiqaa tolerates her presence. Jaaba and Biddiiqaa need to keep their pack healthy and cohesive: their neighbours' pups are getting old enough to join the territorial disputes, and Kotera will soon be outnumbered by Mulamu and Megity. They may be forced to retreat away from their neighbours as the skirmishes become fiercer and more frequent, back into the area which Doda occupied before they were decimated by rabies, but for the meantime they are holding their own, and the newly swollen waters of the Web River will help secure their borders against intruders.


Prof James Malcolm has taken over as EWCP's new Field Coordinator.

June 2005, Oxford.

James experience with Ethiopian wolves spans 30 years; since 1975 he has visited Ethiopia regularly to study the wolves, mountain nyala and other highland wildlife, and was instrumental in raising awareness on the plight of the wolves which eventually led to the establishment of the EWCP. Originally from Britain James graduated from Oxford and received a PhD from Harvard for his work on African wild dogs in Serengeti. He is on extended sabbatical from Redlands Universtity in California. Currently in Addis Ababa on his way to Bale Mountains, James replaces former Coordinator Dr Stuart Williams, who continues to work in the conservation sector in Ethiopia.

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