The Ethiopian wolf, Africa’s only wolf species, is under threat.
The Ethiopian wolf is the rarest and most endangered canid in the world — with only about 450 individuals remaining. They are restricted to seven isolated mountain enclaves in the highlands, and the two remaining strongholds for this iconic species occur in Bale Mountains National Park and Simien Mountains National Park.
Only three percent of the country’s highlands remain uncultivated. Habitat loss caused by overgrazing, human encroachment, population fragmentation, and canine distemper virus and rabies outbreaks are major contributors to the wolves’ population decline.
Ethiopia is also a sanctuary to 20 bird species unique to the country such as the near threatened Lammergeyer, also known as the bearded vulture; and 36 endemic mammals such as the Walia ibex and the Gelada baboon. If these few fragmented remaining populations disappear, then the world will lose an array of irreplaceable species.
Human encroachment is jeopardizing the welfare of Ethiopia’s wildlife.
About 90 percent of its elephant population has been lost since 1980. Currently, a small estimated population of about 1,500 to 2,000 individuals remain. While poaching for elephants continues, the decline of elephants and other wildlife has been compounded by decades of habitat loss, human population increase, and unsustainable agriculture and livestock expansion. Ethiopia’s highlands are some of the most densely populated agricultural areas in Africa, yet, over the years, drought and soil degradation have led to crop failures, often triggering widespread famine. Surveys found that about 63 percent of the grassland in the Simien Mountains National Park has been intensively grazed by livestock. This unsustainable expansion greatly reduces natural habitats, creating an ecological challenge for many of the species that find sanctuary here.
Students in rural Ethiopia have limited access to quality education.
A high percentage of individuals living in rural communities do not have access to a quality education. Less than 40 percent of enrolled students in the country's rural areas finished primary school in 2014.
In Adisge, a rural community outside of Simien Mountains National Park, the local school only accommodated grades one through six and the closest school offering a full primary education (up to grade eight) was 12 kilometers away, impeding student’s ability to finish their primary education. Without a quality education, many rural children are growing up without options for a bright future and are forced to use natural resources to supplement their livelihoods.