To make the greatest conservation impact, AWF uses a range of strategies to protect species in priority landscapes. Though our work is organized around iconic wildlife such as elephants, rhinos, and large carnivores, we design our programs to benefit local human communities as well as all indigenous wildlife and habitats. Among the key species we focus on is one of the world’s rarest canids, the Ethiopian wolf.
Not only are carnivores critical to the long-term viability of ecosystems, their presence is also a strong indicator of healthy prey populations. As they face a combination of threats — retaliatory killings by livestock keepers, declining prey base, habitat decline and human conflict — conserving ecologically viable and functional populations of large carnivores in their natural habitats is paramount but challenging.
With a plethora of endemic species of birds, mammals and plants, there’s no other place on Earth quite like Ethiopia’s Simien Mountains National Park. The protected area encompasses more than 400 sq. km of mountains in the northern part of the country, including Ras Dejen, one of the highest peaks in all of Africa. It’s also the East African nation’s only natural World Heritage Site.
Earlier this summer I wrote about the Ethiopian wolf, the world’s most endangered canid with a worldwide population of less than 500 animals. Though a megafaunal predator balanced on the brink of extinction, the kind of critter that typically attracts a lot of attention from academics and conservationists, the remarkable hunting behavior of this wolf is just now beginning to be understood, thanks in part to a recent study.
When we reflect upon our natal continent, our thoughts tend to coalesce around those megafaunal giants that have forever haunted the human imagination.