See also:
» 04.03.2010 - Ethiopian project sets world climate change example
» 15.02.2010 - Ethiopia and UK leaders to head climate change team
» 14.01.2010 - Ethiopia launches hydro-power plant
» 30.11.2009 - African climate policy centre receives $8.5 million from Sweden
» 27.11.2009 - $39 million injected to improve Ethiopia’s pastoralists lives
» 19.10.2009 - Africa's climate change negotiators meet in Ethiopia
» 19.10.2009 - African countries conclude gender and climate change training
» 07.10.2009 - USAID awards $387,000 for indigenous health in Ethiopia

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Environment - Nature

Rabies ravages endangered Ethiopian wolf

afrol News, 27 November - A rabies epidemic in part of south-eastern Ethiopia is threatening the survival of the most endangered member of the dog family in the world, the Ethiopian wolf; also known as the simian jackal. Environmentalists have now started a vaccination programme.

At least 30 Ethiopian wolves have died from rabies since the disease broke out in the Bale Mountains National Park at the end of September, the environmental group WWF reports today. The Bale park is home to some 300 of the wolves, more than half of the total population in the country.

Since the first death was reported at the end of September, conservationists however have been trying to isolate affected wolves and have started a vaccination programme in an attempt to contain the epidemic.

In the last rabies epidemic in 1991 and 1992, more than two-thirds of park's wolves were wiped out. There are believed to be less than 500 Ethiopian wolves left in the country.

Conservationists fear that "unless more funds are forthcoming to vaccinate the wolves, the population will dwindle," WWF says. Environmental groups already have invested much in the wolves' survival.

The wolves, with their distinctive red coat, are already under threat from human-wildlife conflict. As their natural habitats are eroded by human settlements, they are often killed by local people in the park who perceive them as a threat to themselves and their livestock.

- If we are to save the Ethiopian wolf from extinction, we must find a permanent solution to the recent influx of illegal settlers into the national park, says Dr Ermias Bekele, Coordinator of WWF's Bale Mountains project. Ethiopia currently faces a severe drought and many impoverished families are seeking refuge in greener areas.

The settlers also bring other intruders to the park. "We also have to ensure that the settlers' dogs don't breed with the wolves, eroding their unique genetic make-up even further," says Mr Bekele. "These dogs also have to be vaccinated and sterilised to stop the spread of rabies."

WWF today is appealing for funds to expand the vaccination and sterilisation programme in the Bale Mountains, as well as money to help in the relocation of the recent wave of migrants into the park.

The international group says it is working with the Ethiopian government on implementing a regional resettlement plan. It is also involved in projects to heighten awareness among local communities of the value of the rare Ethiopian wolf and its critical habitats.

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