10 November 2008
Rabies "barrier" to save Ethiopian wolves
A team of dedicated conservationists is battling to save the world's rarest wolf from a rabies outbreak by creating a 'barrier' of vaccinated wolf packs.
With less than 500 left, the endangered Ethiopian wolf teeters on the brink of extinction. In their stronghold in the
'Despite the efforts of our veterinary team, who vaccinate thousands of dogs in Bale's villages every year, the virus has raised its ugly head again and jumped into the wolf population,' said Dr Claudio Sillero of
A team led by Claudio, EWCP Coordinator Dr Graham Hemson and Dr Fekadu Shiferaw of the Ethiopian Wildlife Conservation Authority is implementing a plan to vaccinate wolf packs to create a 'barrier' to prevent the virus from spreading. The researchers knew from previous outbreaks that they had to move quickly to stop the virus in its tracks so they began by vaccinating the first wolf on 20 October.
'Tracking and vaccinating these animals is a far from easy task,' said Dr Sillero. 'Our veterinary team are travelling on horse-back and camping out in remote mountains above 12,000 feet with temperatures falling as low as -15°C. But the first three weeks of the intervention have gone well with the team vaccinating to date forty-eight wolves in eleven vital packs that connect the
'These preciously rare wolves can ill-afford it another massive die-off', concluded Claudio.
Professor David Macdonald, Director of Oxford's WildCRU, commented 'It is only because of years of intensive research that we have the information, and strategies, in place to mount this ambitious vaccination plan. It's a powerful example of the importance of the science and practice of wildlife conservation combined in the effort to deliver practical solutions.'
The intervention has been endorsed by the IUCN Canid Specialist Group and the IUCN Wildlife Health Specialist Group, and has been sanctioned by the Ethiopian Wildlife Conservation Authority (EWCA) and Oromia Bureau of Agriculture and Rural Development.
Dr Claudio Sillero
EWCP is a WildCRU (www.wildcru.org),
For more information on Ethiopian wolf conservation go to www.ethiopianwolf.org