New research is suggesting that a canid once thought to be a jackal may actually be a new species of wolf. See news link below for more details.
Canis simensis' taxonomy lead to a variety of names for this African canid. Its lineage connects it to modern gray wolves through mitochonrdrial DNA showing these animals to be more closely related to gray wolves and coyotes than to any African canids.
Canis simensis is typically found above treeline at altitudes of 3,000 - 4,500m in the Ethiopian highlands and feeds on a variety of Afroalpine rodents, Starck's hares, goslings, eggs, rock hyrax, young common duiker, reedbuck and mountain nyala.
Disease continues to be the most immediate threat to the survival of Ethiopian wolves. The use of an oral rabies vaccine may provide the most realistic, cost-effective and non-invasive approach to effectively protect the wolf population against this lethal virus. A joint meeting by the Ethiopian Wildlife Conservation Authority, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Species Survival Commission (SSC) Canid Specialist Group and the Ethiopian Wolf Conservation Programme resulted in a Strategic Plan for Ethiopian Wolf Conservation to address this and other issues related to the survival of this species.
Common Names: Ethiopian wolf, Abyssinian wolf, ky kebero (Amharic for "red jackal"), jedalla farda (Oromo), Simien jackal
Current Population, Trend, Status
Number of wolves: About 420
Population trend: Decreasing
Legal protection: Full protection
The Ethiopian wolf (C. simensis), once thought to be closely
related to the jackal is actually more closely related to the gray wolf
and coyote than any African canid. This conclusion was reached through
phylogenetic analysis using mitochondrial DNA sequencing. It is thought
that this species evolved from a gray wolf-like ancestor that crossed
Eurasia to northern Africa as recently as 100,000 years ago.
This medium sized canid has a reddish coat, distinctive white
markings throughout the body and black markings on the tail, long legs
and an elongated muzzle. The contrast of white markings against the red
coat increases with age and social rank in both sexes. Males are
significantly larger (20%) than females with an average weight of 16.2
kg (14.2 - 19.3 kg); females weigh an average of 12.8 kg (11.2 - 14.15
Ethiopian wolves are endemic to the Ethiopian highlands, above the
tree line at about 3,200m. The only records of these wolves below
3,000m were specimens collected at 2,500m from Gojjam and north-western
Shoa (north-west and central Ethiopia) at the beginning of the century.
Currently, Ethiopian wolves are confined to seven isolated mountain
ranges of the Ethiopian highlands
Over half of the species' population live in the Bale Mountains
where two core areas for recovery are located: the Web Valley and the
The habitat of these wolves is confined to Afroalpine grasslands and
heathlands at about 3,200m-4,500m where they prey on Afroalpine
rodents. Subsistence agriculture reaches up to 3,500-3,800m in many
areas and often restricts wolves to higher ranges. A pronounced dry
season goes from December to February/March.
Wolves prefer flat or gently sloping open areas with low vegetation,
deep soils and poor drainage in parts where rodents are most abundant.
Rodents account for 96% of all prey occurrences in Ethiopian wolf scat.
Eighty seven percent of the rodents consumed consist of three main
species: the giant molerat, Blick's grass rat and the black-clawed
brush-furred rat. Other prey include typical vlei rat, yellow spotted
brush-furred rat, Starck's hare, and goslings and eggs, rock hyrax,
young common duiker, reedbuck and mountain nyala. Sedge leaves are
occasionally ingested believed to help with digestion or parasite
Depredation is an issue with the Ethiopian wolf as it is with other
wolf species however, Ethiopian wolves present a lesser danger compared
to hyenas and jackals with the occurrence of livestock remains in wolf
scat uncommon across the highlands.
Social interactions and communication between Ethiopian wolves is
similar to other wolf species with an average pack size of 3-13
individuals. However, males rarely disperse and are instead recruited
into multi-male philopatric packs. Sexually mature females are the main
dispersers and have strictly limited movements for lack of habitat.
These females look for openings in packs, often packs with deceased
breeding females. Average pack territory is 6.0-13.2 square km with
some overlapping ranges. Females may accept courting from males within
the pack or neighboring packs. Preference is shown to the dominant male
in the pack although, studies have found that 70% of matings involved
males from outside the pack. Breeding season is usually anytime from
August through November. During breeding and pregnancy, the female's
coat changes to pale yellow and becomes woolly while the tail turns
brownish and loses hair. Two to seven young are born in October through
January, blind and deaf with a charcoal gray natal coat that has a buff
patch in the chest and groin areas. Full, adult appearance is reached
at two years as is sexual maturity. Life span in the wild is
approximately eight to ten years.
Natural causes of mortality include predation of young by spotted
hyenas or raptors, starvation in juveniles occurring more frequently
with females, pathogens and parasites such as rabies which is the main
cause in Bale, and human causes.
The Ethiopian wolf is considered a critically rare canid and one of
the rarest African carnivores. Population decline is a result of many
factors: continuous loss of habitat due to agriculture (sustinence
farming and overgrazing), traffic incidents and shootings,
hybridization with domestic dogs, and disease. The Ethiopian wolf
receives full official protection under Ethiopia's Wildlife
Conservation Regulations of 1974, Schedule VI. Killing of a wolf
carries a sentence of up to two years imprisonment.
Conservation efforts include vaccination of both domestic dogs and
wild wolves from rabies, sterilization of domestic dogs and hybrids,
funding patrolling and maintenance of recovery areas, surveys and
monitoring of populations, workshops to educate about Ethiopian wolves,
the Bale Mountains Research Project begun in 1983, and the
establishment of the Ethiopian Wolf Conservation Programme (EWCP) in
1995. There are no Ethiopian wolves in captivity.