The Ethiopian Wolf
These enigmatic, rare animals are found in the mountains and highlands of Ethiopia: the biggest populations live in the Simien Mountains National Park and Bale Mountains National Park, whose dramatically contoured landscapes are made up of a mix of biodiverse forests on the lower slopes and grassy plains higher up.
The wolves are social animals and tend to live together in packs of usually 3 to 13 wolves, made up of males recently born into the pack as well as one or two females. They, however, tend to hunt alone, as their prey is primarily giant mole rats and common grass rats. The giant mole rats only spend 20 minutes per day outside of their holes, so the wolves have to be very enterprising in order to catch one. Occasionally, however, the wolves will hunt together to bring down larger animals such as antelope.
The wolves live in dens, with often form part of an interconnected maze of burrows with several entrances. The wolves give birth to their pups here, and they serve as a place of safety thereafter for young pups. These pups are raised communally by the pack of wolves, with mothers caring not only for their own pups.
The species is Africa’s most endangered carnivore, with fewer than 500 remaining in the wild, in only 7 different enclaves. Their numbers have been diminished by disease on the one hand, in particular rabies and canine distemper, as well as by the expansion of agriculture and the overgrazing of livestock, threatening their habitats. Tourism, however, can play a role in reversing this: the more tourist revenue is dependent on their survival, the greater the incentive will be for local residents to ensure that their agricultural practices are sustainable.
It is generally easiest to spot one of these majestic creatures if you camp overnight in a spot where they are found, and then go out looking for them early the following morning when they tend to be most active. Brilliant offers tours such as a multi-day trekking adventure in the Bale Mountains, which involves camping overnight on the beautiful, high-altitude Sanetti Plateau and going out the following morning to track the wolves with the help of our expert guides. The Ethiopian wolf isn’t the only fascinating species to be found in the country’s beautiful highlands, with others such as black-maned lions, mountain Nyala, gelada monkeys and spotted hyenas, to be found among their dense forests and expansive plains.