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Research project

Ecology of the Ethiopian wolf in a changing landscape: Human carnivore interactions in Afroalpine ecosystems of Ethiopia

Do Ethiopian wolves change their diet and foraging strategy in the landscape under different land uses? How land use affect Afro-alpine rodent Communities? How important are Afro-alpine natural resources utilisation for local livelihoods? What is the human perception of conflict in the Afro-alpine area?

2013 - 2018
The Ruffort Small Grants Foundation The Ruffort Small Grants Foundation
Louwes Fund for Research on Water and Food Louwes Fund for Research on Water and Food
Windlife Conservation Network Windlife Conservation Network
The Ethiopian Wolf Conservation programme The Ethiopian Wolf Conservation programme


Short abstract

Ethiopia’s Afroalpine ecosystems are home to a unique and endemic fauna, including the rare Ethiopian wolf / Canis simensis/ and several species of its rodent prey. The habitats of the Ethiopian wolf are getting degraded and fragmented by increasing human populations, and two local extinctions were recorded in the recent past. This research project aims to better understand the ecology of Ethiopian wolves in the Northern Highlands, where the most threatened populations exist, by means of studying rodent populations, diet of wolves, and the factors driving to human-wolf conflict.  Then, this project will contribute to design conservation approaches sustain local livelihoods.

Project description

Ethiopia has the largest extension of Afroalpine ecosystems in the continent and numerous endemics, such as the endangered Ethiopian wolf Canis simensis, a rodent hunter threatened by habitat loss, diseases and conflicts with people over livestock predation.

1. Scientific relevance

This project proposes ecological research to understand the effects of habitat degradation upon the Ethiopian wolves’ prey base and the dietary requirements of Ethiopian wolves in human dominated landscapes, seeking to identify alternative solutions to the unregulated exploitation of natural resources. We propose extensive field surveys of rodent populations under various land uses, including areas where livestock has been excluded for years, and analyses of faeces to understand the diet composition and the real extent of livestock predation. Protecting Ethiopian wolves will contribute to protect Afroalpine biodiversity and the many crucial ecosystem services that these mountains provide to people. This work contributes to, and is supported by, the Ethiopian Wolf Conservation Programme (EWCP) in the newly established Borena Sayint National Park in North Ethiopia

2. Material & Methods

Capture Mark-Recapture methods will be used to estimate abundance, community composition, and habitat associations of rodents, complemented with surveys of vegetation composition and structure, topography, and soil characteristics. Standard live trapping methods, previously used in Afroalpine areas of Ethiopia will be used to sample rodents in various habitat types within and outside protected areas. The presence of prey remains in faeces of Ethiopian wolf will be used to characterize prey composition, using standard laboratorial protocols. Prey remains such as bones and hairs will be used to identify prey items, particularly to calculate the relative frequency

of livestock prey (mainly lambs) in the diet of Ethiopian wolves. Standard questionnaires will be used to collect additional s information on events of livestock predation by wild carnivores in the area and people’s attitudes towards Ethiopian wolves and Afroalpine conservation.

3. Results & Conclusions

New ecological and socio-economic information that help towards natural resources management plans and to mitigate the impacts of human-wildlife conflict, particularly due to livestock predation will be gained.

Available rodent prey for Ethiopian wolves in human-dominated landscape will be quantified. These are the main findings expected from this project.

4. Follow-up

Because the research objectives are well-integrated with the activities and missions of EWCP, the results will be readily incorporated into the work of this organization, will be produced and disseminated to the local community and published in scientific journal of international hierarchy.

5. Why Leiden University?

Conducting an ecological research project focusing on conservation biology in the renowned Leiden University will give an opportunity to learn from scientists with experiences in supervising research of high academic level in many parts of the world.

6. Social relevance

This study will progress the understanding of ecological relationships between plants, animals and people in tropical mountain environments where natural resources are central to local livelihoods.


The update about this project is posted on Ethiopian wolf conservation programme website:  www.ethiopianwolf.org

  • Eshete, G., Girmay, T., Bauer, H., de Iongh H. & Marino, J. (submitted, 2014) Community resource uses and Ethiopian wolf conservation in Mount Abune Yosef. Environmental Management 
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