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28 June 2007


Edie Hemson

New EWCP recruit getting ready for Bale!


James' Farewell

A few photos from James' farewell bash at the Dinsho Lodge


18 June 2007


Graham Norton: Saving Wolves - Monday 2 July 7pm BBC One

Passionate dog-lover Graham Norton travels to Ethiopia to investigate a project which is helping man's best friend live alongside their rare wild cousin – the Ethiopian wolf.

Other programs in the series:
Will Young: Saving Gorillas
Monday 25 June, 7pm
Fiona Bruce: Saving Tigers
Tuesday 26 June, 7pm
Edith Bowman: Saving Crocodiles
Wednesday 27 June, 7pm
Carol Thatcher: Saving Albatrosses
Thursday 28 June, 7pm
Phil Tufnell: Saving Rhinos
Friday 29 June, 7pm
Jack Osbourne: Saving Elephants
Tuesday 3 July, 7pm
Saving Planet Earth UK
– Regional programmes Wednesday 4 July, 7pm
Saira Khan: Saving Turtles
Thursday 5 July, 7pm
Nick Knowles: Saving Orang-utans
Friday 6 July, 7pm
Saving Planet Earth – LIVE
Friday 6 July, 7.30pm & 8.30pm - The Saving Planet Earth star-studded fundraising spectacular. Hosted by Alan Titchmarsh, with Graham Norton, live from the Royal Botanic Gardens in London

The BBC Wildlife Fund is a brand new charity, established in May 2007, to supports work protecting wildlife under threat around the world. Initially, the Fund is getting the bulk of its money from the appeal promoted in the BBC Saving Planet Earth TV series. Money raised will be prioritised for distribution among the projects featured in the Saving Planet Earth programmes. Grants will be decided – by the Trustees– in the autumn of 2007 and will usually provide funding over three years. Hopefully, enough money will be raised for a second round of grants to be awarded in 2008, open to new and existing applicants.

The Ethiopian wolf was one of 23 wildlife projects approved by an independent selection panel for inclusion in the Saving Planet Earth TV series. Only nine could be filmed for this first series, but all are eligible to apply for funding from the BBC Wildlife Fund. All the projects were approved because they: addressed a clear plight, protected an important species that was key to an ecosystem, were effective in the past with plans for the future and involved local communities. Donations online to the BBC Wildlife Fund at


New EWCP member Edie Alice Hemson

On 11th June Graham and Ness Hemson welcomed the first addition to their family and the newest member of the EWCP team into the world, Edie Alice Hemson.


Adieu James

After two years of service in mountains of Dinsho and the offices of Addis Ababa, James Malcolm has returned to Redlands University in California. He will be sorely missed by the staff at EWCP who organised a spontaneous party on his final day, giving up their Sunday and their own money to prepare a feast, coffee ceremony and all male dance team! The evening was a wonderful celebration of James’ time at the helm of EWCP in Ethiopia and the affection the staff have for him was very clear. They presented him with several thoughtful presents that he will doubtless cherish.
Over the past two years James has endured considerable personal challenges as well as a very challenging time for EWCP. Despite this adversity James leaves EWCP and the staff enriched, enlightened and in a better position than when he started. We have a brand new Memorandum of Understanding with the federal and state governments (a journey that took two years of patient liaison) an enthusiastic and empowered team working in Dinsho and the mountains and wonderful opportunity to extend the activities of the EWCP into the second most important wolf area, Arsi.
James’ involvement with Ethiopia spans three decades and I felt privileged to spend the last month with him in Ethiopia. His enthusiasm for and knowledge of Bale, Oromia and Ethiopia is inspirational and infectious and his commitment cannot be questioned. While we bid him a fond farewell we expect to see him back in Bale before too long. He seems unable to stay away for too long!
Bon voyage and best wishes James,
Graham Hemson

15 June 2007


James Malcolm on leaving

It has been a privilege and a pleasure to act as Field Coordinator for EWCP for the last two years, but now it is time to leave (a sentiment heartily endorsed by Claudio Sillero my long suffering supervisor in Oxford). I will return to my regular job teaching Conservation Biology to undergraduates in California. (I intend to devote half the course to dealing with obfuscatory bureaucrats.)
I think it is time to leave as the march of technology has reached the field station in Bale. A telephone has been connected this week and mobile coverage is coming soon. The idea of having my breakfast and dinner interrupted by calls from angry girlfriends and supervisors is not my idea of fun. (However I endorse the coming of hot showers.)
I am delighted to hand over to Dr.Graham Hemson, who is as funny as he is competent. He will steer EWCP through whatever shoals lie ahead.
Two looming problems are potatoes and global warming. Potato cultivation has taken over the Bale Mountains in the last twenty years and already extends above 3600m. Although Ethiopian wolves can coexist with cows, sheep and goats, their habitat is irreversibly destroyed by ploughing, and potatoes in other parts of the world are cultivated above 4000m, the upper limit of the wolves’ range. The high afro-alpine moorlands, the wolves’ prime habitat, could be overtaken by sub-alpine vegetation if global warming intensifies.
However, there is a mood of optimism in Bale. A new General Management Plan for the Bale Mountains National Park may yet guide the park so that it realizes its potential as a conservation area of global significance with the Ethiopian wolf as a flagship. A new tarmac road may bring the tourists that have been promised for the last thirty years.
Good luck of EWCP and the Bale Mountains.
James Malcolm


Ethiopian wolves on the front cover of Behavioral Ecology

Congratulations to Deborah Randall and co-authors on the publication of a paper in Behavioral Ecology, from Deb's PhD research on the genetics and mating system of Ethiopian wolves :) It's also great to see Ethiopian wolves on the front cover of the journal, further raising the global profile of this endangered species and the work of the EWCP to understand and protect it.
Lucy Tallents

Inbreeding is reduced by female-biased dispersal and mating behavior in Ethiopian wolves
Deborah A. Randall, John P. Pollinger, Robert K. Wayne, Lucy A. Tallents, Paul J. Johnson and David W. Macdonald.Behavioral Ecology 2007, 18(3):579-589

Abstract:Molecular tools have enabled wildlife researchers to obtain accurate information on the kinship, mating behavior, and dispersal of individuals. We genotyped 192 Ethiopian wolves (n = 29 packs) in the Bale Mountains for 17 microsatellite loci to 1) elucidate kinship within and between packs, 2) assess parentage of pups, and 3) evaluate whether inbreeding is avoided by dispersal and/or mating behavior. Mean pairwise relatedness within packs (R= 0.39) was significantly greater than that estimated from random assignment of individuals to packs. However, breeding pairs were most often unrelated, suggesting that female-biased dispersal reduces inbreeding. We assigned
maternity to 49 pups and paternity to 47 pups (n = 12 litters) using a combination of exclusion, likelihood analyses (using CERVUS software), and sibship reconstruction. Multiple paternity occurred in 33% of litters; extrapack paternity accounted for 28% of all resolved paternities, occurring in 50% of litters. We found no evidence that extrapack copulations reduce inbreeding; however, more detailed analyses may elucidate the effect of recent population declines and demographic disturbances due to recurring disease outbreaks. The adaptive advantages of female-biased dispersal and the observed mating system are discussed in relation to Ethiopian wolf sociobiology and ecology.


Flavie Vial PhD on the impact of livestock grazing in Bale

Over the last 20 years, the Bale Mountains National Park (BMNP) has been used to graze increasingly high numbers of livestock that are suspected to have reduced rodent diversity and abundance. This reduction constitutes a threat to the persistence of the Ethiopian wolf population. Overgrazing also poses another ecological threat to the park: BMNP is the water source for five major rivers on which an estimated 12 million people depend, and it is feared that ground-trampling and vegetation removal by cattle has a detrimental effect on this hydrological system. Investigating the effects of livestock grazing on the functioning of this ecosystem has been identified as the leading research priority in the recently ratified BMNP management plan.

As part of her doctorate, Flavie Vial will establish critical links between vegetation condition, livestock grazing pressures and rodent assemblages through field investigations and through the construction of fenced-off areas – exclosures – in which grazing pressure can be finely and reliably manipulated. Flavie’s research is part of a new collaboration that will combine the conservation expertise available within the WildCRU, with the ecological modelling capabilities available within the Theoretical Ecology Group at the University of Glasgow. Flavie is jointly supervised by Dan Haydon (Glasgow), David Macdonals and Claudio Sillero (WildCRU) and working closely with the EWCP team in Bale.

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