Archive for Ethiopia

Organization Of The Day: Ethiopian Wolf Conservation Program

Posted in Organization of The Day, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 29, 2010 by Dori G

With only about 500 adults left, the Ethiopian Wolf is the rarest candid species in the world and is dangerously close to extinction. While habitat loss and fragmentation are the biggest contributors to their decline, Ethiopian Wolves are also greatly compromised by diseases transmitted by domestic dogs, persecution from humans, and hybridization with domestic dogs. Home to many endemic species, the Afroalpine ecosystem in which the wolves live is also very close to being lost completely. In response to the rapidly declining population, Chris Hillman and Claudio Sillero formed the Ethiopian Wolf Project in 1988, which later gave rise to the Ethiopian Wolf Conservation Program (EWCP) in 1995.

With Ethiopian Wolves now only existing in small, isolated population, their survival is severely jeopardized by loss of genetic diversity and inbreeding, and the entire population could easily be wiped out by a natural catastrophe or disease epidemic. Understanding as much as possible about their ecology, biology, and behavior is critical to saving this species from extinction, thus research  is at the core of the EWCP’s objectives. The program closely monitors each sub-population of wolves and works closely with sutdents and researchers to understand every element of this endangered species.With ever-expanding human populations, the wolves come into contact with domestic dogs quite frequently. Consequently, wolves are susceptible to disease that the domestic dogs carry (specifically rabies) and mating has occurred between the two dog species, giving rise to hybrid offspring.

EWCP tries to counteract the effects of the domestic dogs. Hybrids are quickly identified and sterilized to prevent further loss of genetic diversity amongst the wolf populations. The program also offers a domestic dog sterilization program and encourages better dog husbandry amongst local communities. Unfortunately, in the 90’s and again in 2003, a rabies outbreak contracted from domestic dogs nearly destroyed the wolf population. EWCP was able to stop the outbreak by vaccinating the wolves. They also vaccinate domestic dogs to prevent this from happening again. EWCP’s education program targets governments, local authorities, farmers, and school children living in wolf ranges and attempts to educate the people and raise awareness about the disappearing Afroalpine ecosystem and its wolves. EWCP celebrated the 12th annual “Wolf Day” with local communities just this last month, an initiative that seeks to increase awareness and foster positive attitudes toward this canid species. The Education Team visits local schools and distributes education materials to over 3,000 children each year.

Their education officers work with adults in the community, trying to spread the word about the problem with domestic dogs, and encouraging them to have their dogs sterilized. They also try to educate communities on the fact that the wolves are not known to prey on livestock, and thus livestock loss must not end in persecution of these animals. EWCP increases the capacity  of Ethiopians in ecology and conservation by training and mentoring aspiring field biologists. To address the biggest challenge facing the Ethiopian Wolves, EWCP seeks to protect what little is left of the wolves’ Afroalpine ecosystem. They are actively working to expand the boundaries of the area’s National Parks, as many wolves are living outide the parks. Preventing further habitat loss from land converted for cereal crop production and livestock grazing is critical to the future of the Ethiopian Wolves. EWCP seeks to ensure a future for these magnificent animals with the help of present and future generations. Without Ethiopian Wolf Conservation Programme, the wolves would have surely gone extinct by now.

To learn more, please visit their website


Organization of The Day: Grevy’s Zebra Trust

Posted in Organization of The Day with tags , , , , , , , , , on June 14, 2010 by kendickjerkins

Grevy’s Zebra Trust

Over the last 30 years, experts estimate an 84-87% decline in the world’s Grevy’s zebra population, with only about 2,000 left in the wild today.  They are now only found in Kenya and Ethiopia.  Their demise is attributed mainly to poaching (for meat), as well as the effects of domestic livestock on essential resources such as food and water.  Disease and drought in northern Kenya has further accelerated their decline in recent times.  The Grevy’s Zebra Trust was created in 2007 to stimulate conservation efforts for this imperiled species.  The Trust contributed to a social movement that was born when Kenya Wildlife Service implemented a nation-wide conservation strategy in 2008.

The strategy leaves the responsibility of carrying out conservation efforts in the hands of stakeholders and envisions a goal that encompasses a healthy and viable future for the Grevy’s Zebra population.  The Grevy’s Zebra Trust unites the conservation strategy with the people.  The first step in the process was to identify the current status of the Grevy’s Zebra population and was executed by conducting a national survey.  As part of the survey, the team was able to unite with IUCN’s Monitoring the Illegal Killing of Elephants (MIKE) program to conduct aerial surveys to count zebras while simultaneously searching for poaching activities.  Ultimately, the results would provide the information necessary to identify key areas to target conservation efforts on in order to accomplish the goal of the strategy, and also provides a basis on which to evaluate the effectiveness of their endeavors.

Part of the survey involved gauging local pastoralist communities’ interactions with and knowledge of the zebras.  The organization recognizes the value in educating these communities on the main issue and directly engaging them in their efforts.  The Trust trains nomadic peoples how to recognize various biologic and ecologic variables of these animals.  In so doing, these people become committed to data collection, protection, and appreciation for the zebras.  They are also educated on alternatives to the use of these animals, improved livestock management that reduces competition and conflict with the zebras, and are encouraged to spread these messages to other communities.  The integration of pastoralist communities into conservation efforts is critical to achieving the goals of the conservation strategy.  Though a young organization, the Grevy’s Zebra Trust is already making enormous strides in ensuring the future of this endangered zebra species.

To learn more, visit their website