Lesser Known facts about Ethiopian Wolves

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Wolves are generally pictured to be the grey furry kind of animals and not something like that an Ethiopian wolf looks like which is why they are often mistaken for wolves or jackals. Unlike the furry North American kind, these wolves have long legs, black and white markings and mostly reddish brown in colour with a pointed muzzle. Canis simensis or the Ethiopian wolf is unfortunately a highly endangered species with their numbers fast declining.

Here are some of the facts about Ethiopian wolves.

  • The habitat of Ethiopian wolves spans over the Bale Mountains in Southern regions of Ethiopia and south-eastern parts of Rift Valley. They are also found in the remotest areas of the alpine grasslands and heathlands above the tree line of 10000 ‘“ 14000 feet elevations. Because these wolves prefer valley meadows and short grasslands, habitat of these wolves are under constant threat.

  • Ethiopian wolves are always found to live in close knit territorial packs with s strong sense of bonding within the wolves of a particular pack.

  • The adults of an Ethiopian wolf pack will often be found patrolling areas during dawn and dusk time to mark pack territories. Individual pack members forage for food alone.

  • Due to the constant threat to the habitat of these creatures, Ethiopian wolves can account for as few as 500 wolves in the wild. They are one of the most threatened canines in the world and only a handful can be found in the mountain ranges of Africa.

  • Habitat destruction caused by urbanisation and over-grazing of wild plains and pastures in the highlands have quickened the rate of disappearance of this species of wolf. About 60% of land above 3200m has been converted for agricultural land along with government proposed developments of commercial sheep farms in the area.

  • These wolves are also known by the name of Red fox, Simien fox, Simien jackal, Abyssinian fox and Red jackal.

  • The wolves particularly prey on rodents. However, most agriculturalists consider them a threat to their livestock and kill them which are actually quite unlikely because the wolves rarely ever target chickens or goats as preys.

  • A major population of Ethiopian wolves were affected by rabies in 1990 which led to large number of deaths adding to their chances of species extinction.

  • Ethiopian wolves are also found mating with domestic dogs which led to hybridized varieties of wolves. It does not help their species, instead only serves to dilute their gene pool threatening species viability.

  • Most social canines mate according to their social status but the Ethiopian wolves do not differentiate. They can be found breeding with alpha, beta and omega wolves alike and also care for their younger ones together.

  • The lifespan of an average Ethiopian wolf lasts for as long as 8 ‘“ 10 years in the wild.

  • Ethiopian wolves are the least aggressive of the wolf species and rarely fight between packs or within packs.

Although several conservation efforts have been made to save the species of Ethiopian wolves, unless drastic measures are taken, nothing can be done to prevent their extinction. Wolves are killed by farmers, due to habitat loss, in road accidents and many other such man-caused activities.

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