Africa’s most endangered carnivore

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Ethiopian Wolf

Conservation Status:


  • Found in 7 isolated enclaves
  • Fewer than 600 Adult individuals remaining
  • Annually, only about 60% of dominant females breed successfully

Quick Facts

Scientific Name

Canis simensis


24-41 lbs.


53–62 cm. tall


Up to 10 years


Grasslands, rocky areas and shrublands


60–62 days




Where do Ethiopian wolves live?

As their name suggests, Ethiopian wolves are endemic to Ethiopia, where they are restricted to just seven isolated enclaves in the country’s highlands. The largest population can be found in the Bale Mountains in southern Ethiopia.

Tags: East Africa, Ethiopia, Simien Mountains View Africa | Habitat

Physical Characteristics

What is an Ethiopian wolf?

Ethiopian wolves have a bushy tail, pointed ears, slender snout, and long legs. They are a tawny red with a white underbelly and blaze on their chests, and also have white fur on their throats, which sweeps up and covers the underside of their muzzle. Their black, bushy tails can reach up to 40cm in length.

Behavior & Diet

They live together, but hunt alone. 

Unlike other wolf species, Ethiopian wolves are solitary hunters. Their diet consists mainly of the giant mole rats that are abundant in their habitat. However, Ethiopian wolves do live in packs—this allows them to defend a territory with enough rodents to feed the entire group.

They are family-oriented.

Ethiopian wolf packs are groups of extended family members, made up of all the males born into the pack during the previous years and one or two females. During breeding season, co-mingling between different packs is more common. These interactions are highly vocal, and end when the smaller pack flees from the larger one.

Raising wolf pups is a communal activity.

Adult wolves in a pack will help raise each other’s pups. Wolf mothers give birth in a den they dug themselves, under a boulder or inside a rocky crevice. These dens usually consist of a highly utilized network of burrows, which can have multiple entrances and be interconnected. Pups are regularly shifted from one den to another.

  • Ethiopian wolf
  • Ethiopian wolf
  • Ethiopian wolf

Agriculture is swallowing up wolf habitat.

This endangered canine (IUCN, 2015) is threatened by human encroachment. Subsistence farming in Ethiopia’s highlands is overtaking large swaths of their range, restricting them to higher and higher altitudes. The overgrazing of livestock is only exacerbating this habitat loss.

Diseases are taking a toll.

Population decline of the Ethiopian wolf is increasingly being tied to diseases, particularly in the Bale Mountains. Rabies is a potential threat to all wolf populations, while canine distemper is also a serious concern in Bale.


Our solutions to protecting and conserving the Ethiopian wolf:

  • Create income alternatives.

    African Wildlife Foundation is working to establish new mechanisms for ensuring local communities’ livelihoods. Our Simien Mountains Cultural Tourism project is improving infrastructure and accommodations in and around the national park. Increased revenue from community-owned and operated tourism will reduce dependence on subsistence farming.

  • Enlist local communities.

    In the Simien Mountains and three other locations in the Ethiopian highlands, the Ethiopian Wolf Conservation Programme—part of our Urgent Response Fund efforts—will engage local communities as “Wolf Ambassadors” to monitor wolves, introduce a report system to understand the causes of livestock predation by carnivores, and undertake rabies vaccinations for domesticated dogs to prevent disease outbreaks from spreading to the wolves. 


Will you show the Ethiopian wolf your support?

With your help, AWF can continue our efforts to keep the Ethiopian wolf’s populations from further decline, by working with communities to protect this charismatic canine. Donate today to help ensure that the endangered Ethiopian wolf endures forever.

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