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New hope for the planet's most endangered canid: A rabies vaccination programme for Ethiopian Wolves

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Ethiopian wolves are the most endangered canid on the planet. They are found only in the mountains of Ethiopia, where fewer than 500 individuals survive in small populations, threatened by habitat loss and disease.

 

The Ethiopian Wolf Conservation Programme (EWCP), which is part of Oxford University’s Wildlife Conservation Research Unit (WildCRU), was founded in 1995 by Claudio Sillero and Karen Laurenson, with the mission of securing viable and ecologically functioning Ethiopian wolf populations and habitats for the future. WildTeam have been working with EWCP since 2017 to help them infuse our project management processes into their work.



 

Rabies in particular is one of the main threats which the wolves face. It has the potential to kill up to 70% of individuals in an area. So when we caught up with Dr Jorgelina Marino, the team’s Science Director, in April 2019, she was excited the tell us about their new initiative.

 

In the past couple of years the team have begun an oral rabies vaccination program, inoculating wolves before they ever get infected. The introduction of this program is the result of many years of hard work and represents a major breakthrough for wolf conservation. Firstly, the team don’t need to trap and handle wolves to vaccinate them, with benefits in terms of animal welfare and reduced costs. With the need to handle the animals removed, the governments were also willing to give permission for the preventive vaccination program to go ahead, as opposed to the usual emergency vaccination approach, reacting to an outbreak, by when several wolves were already infected and died.

 

The hope is that the preventative vaccination program will mean that major rabies outbreaks are a thing of the past and that the future of these beautiful animals is little bit rosier than it was before.

Find out more about EWCP's work here.

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