Rare wolf saved from extinction

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22 October 2018
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Africa’s most endangered carnivore — and the most threatened canid in the world — has been thrown a lifeline, thanks to international wildlife charity Born Free.
Image: Thierry Grobet, Nyala Productions

While the Ethiopian Wolf population, which teeters on the brink of extinction, has been threatened by loss of habitat, numbers have dwindled further due to domestic dogs spreading rabies and distemper.

But thanks to 10 years of research, field trials, and awareness work, the first oral vaccination programme has been developed. Led by the University of Oxford’s Ethiopian Wolf Conservation Programme (EWCP) and funded by the Born Free Foundation, this new form of vaccination will help prevent rabies and boost the species’ survival.

Less than 500 wolves remain in six populations confined to the highlands of Ethiopia, specifically the Bale Mountains, where the vaccination campaign will be implemented.

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Born Free’s chief scientist and EWCP’s founder, Professor Claudio Sillero, explains: “Thirty years ago, I witnessed an outbreak of rabies which killed the majority of the wolves I had closely followed for my doctoral studies. Today, thanks to funding from Born Free and the generosity of companies such as Virbac, which donated oral vaccines, our strategic campaign will greatly reduce the chances of this rare species becoming extinct.”