Dear friends of EWCP,
I would like to thank those of you that came to the WCN Garden Reception in Los Altos in June. We received many generous donations for EWCP, and I enjoyed meeting old friends and making new ones.
Our British supporters please take note that on 7th September we will gather in London's Battersea Park for our second Walk for Wolves organized by Born Free Foundation.
Hope you enjoy receiving regular news from our team in Ethiopia.
Thank you for your support.
|WCN solar panel guru visits Bale Mountains|
By Stephen Gold, San Francisco, USA
I recently visited the Bale Mountains to inspect three solar electric systems that I facilitated as part of my Wildlife Conservation Network solar project. I was not prepared for the beauty of the Afroalpine highlands and I was equally impressed with the staff and activities of the EWCP. After spending more than a week there, I understood how important and difficult their work is.
I toured with a colleague, and we were met by Graham and Vanessa in Addis. After an arduous drive to Dinsho we were greeted by Edriss, the programme manager, who seems to be everywhere at once. The following day we 4-wheeled to Sodota, where we saw the first solar installation. This provides all of the electricity for the camp and enables PhD student Freya to conduct her research on wolf reproduction. Lead by Mustaffa on horseback, we camped for several days at Keyrensa, Rafu and finally Sanetti, where another solar installation is located. This trek is unbelievably beautiful, especially the otherworldly rock formations at Rafu. We spend the final night in Dinsho with Graham and Vanessa, who cooked us a fabulous dinner.
The success of the EWCP is from the "top down" and the "ground up". All of the wolf monitors, who lead very difficult lives camping at 4,000m, are as committed to the preservation of the Ethiopian wolf as Graham and Claudio are, and everyone was deeply involved with the local community. I feel very privileged to be a part of the EWCP, and I look forward to returning to Ethiopia in the future.
|News from Bale |
By Graham Hemson
Dinsho is underwater. It has been raining almost non-stop for 2 weeks and our house, storerooms and research buildings have all mysteriously sprung leaks. The rivers and streams with their headwaters in Bale are thundering past and Dinsho market is a swamp.
Nevertheless work continues and our monitors have reports of new packs in an area West of Bale (Somkero) and have collected faecal evidence of wolves in Lajo (an area slightly North of Dinsho). These are all positive signs and point to a population continuing to recover from disease epidemics.
Back at HQ we are preparing for the onset of the breeding season and our big push to gather vital data on our focal packs. The field equipment is being thoroughly checked and elaborate and optimistic work plans are being formulated. One concern is site accessibility and the teams are worried that they may not be able to get into the Web Valley until the flood waters subside. A first scouting foray heads out today and we look forward to their news.
|Let’s talk about rats!|
By Flavie Vidal
The Afroalpine grasslands of the Bale Mountains support an exceptionally high diversity of rare and endemic rodent species, such as the giant molerat (Tachyoryctes macrocephalus), a favourite prey of the Ethiopian wolf. However, over the last 20 years, the National Park has been used to graze increasingly high numbers of livestock that are suspected to have reduced rodent diversity and abundance. This reduction constitutes a threat to the persistence of the Ethiopian wolves. Investigating the effects of livestock grazing on the Afroalpine ecosystem has been identified as one of the leading research priority for Bale.
As part of my PhD, I will model the impact of livestock-rodents competition on the long-term survival of the wolves. Using EWCP's long-term monitoring data as well as my livestock data collected along transects I aim to produce a map of livestock grazing pressure, highlighting which particular habitats are more prone to overgrazing. Field investigations designed to identify critical links between vegetation, livestock grazing and rodent communities include the construction of enclosures within which no livestock is allowed. These enclosures will unequivocally determine the extent to which livestock grazing has an impact on vegetation diversity/biomass and rodent abundance, as well as inform us on the recovery time-scale of the system once livestock grazing is removed. These enclosures provide a long-term experiment that long exceeds the duration of my PhD, and offer the park a tool to develop the scientific basis for future management of its natural resources.
|Rodent surveys in the Arsi Mountains |
By Mohammed Kasso
A study on the status and ecology of rodents in Arsi was conducted as part of my MSc degree in Mount Chilalo and Galama Range from August 2007 to April 2008. Live-trapping was used to obtain information on the distribution of rodents and insectivores, their relative abundances and habitat associations. Of a total of 2,525 captures 96% were rodents and 4% were insectivores. A total of 17 species of were recorded, 60% endemic to Ethiopia. Lophuromys flavopunctatus was the most abundant and widely distributed species; Mus mahomet the least abundant and more restricted. The majority of species were associated with the montane forests, whereas the least were trapped in shrubland at higher altitudes. I acknowledge my advisors Prof. Afework Bekele and Dr Graham Hemson for their continuous follow up and EWCP for financial support.
21 August - Ethiopian Wolf Conservation Committee meeting, Addis Ababa
7 September - Walk for Wolves, Battersea Park, London
28 September - EWCP celebrates World Rabies Day
4-5 October - Ethiopian wolves at WCN Expo, San Francisco Bay Area