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Ethiopia at a glance

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.

Questions over 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.

Species Information

Common Names: Ethiopian wolf, Abyssinian wolf, ky kebero (Amharic for "red jackal"), jedalla farda (Oromo), Simien jackal
Latin Name: Canis simensis

Current Population, Trend, Status
Number of wolves: About 420
Population trend: Decreasing
Legal protection: Full protection

NEW Related News

Africa's Lone Wolf: New Species Found in Ethiopia

Most recent wolf data available: 2012

Human Relationships

Recovery & Management

Article: Endangered Means There's Still Time

Article: Threat to Recovery: Rabies

Related Links & Information

Wildlife Conservation Research Unit is one of the most comprehensive sites on the Ethiopian wolf.

Ethiopian Wolf Conservation Programme


Canis simensis Biology

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 kg).

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 Sanetti Plateau.

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 control.

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 neig

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