The Ethiopian wolf resembles the coyote in
both shape and size, but has a distinctive
reddish coat with a white throat, chest, and
underparts. The boundary between the red and
white fur is quite distinct. White markings on
the face include a characteristic white crescent
below the eyes and a white spot on the cheeks.
The chin and throat are also white. The tail is
marked with an indistinct black stripe down its
length and a brush of black hairs at the tip. It
ranges in size from 43 to 55 inches (tip of nose
to end of tail) and weighs from 24 to 42 pounds.
Females are generally paler in color than males
and are smaller overall.
The only wolf in Africa is found only in six
or seven mountain ranges of Ethiopia, with the
largest population (of 120-160 individuals) found
in the Bale Mountains National Park. It lives in
afro-alpine grasslands and heathlands where
vegetation is less than a foot high, at altitudes
of 9,840 to 13,210 feet.
The most threatened canid in the world, the
total population in the wild is thought to number
as few as 500, with around 250 breeding
individuals. Its greatest threat is a recurring
epidemic of rabies which is transmitted from
domestic dogs with whom the wolves compete for
The Ethiopian wolf feeds
primarily on rodents, especially giant mole-rats,
which are usually captured by digging them
out of burrows. It will also take goslings, eggs,
and young ungulates (reedbuck and mountain nyla),
and occasionally scavenges carcasses. Although
they usually hunt alone, Ethiopian wolves will
occasionally hunt cooperatively to bring down
young antelopes, lambs, and hares.
Ethiopian wolves form packs of 3-13
individuals (with 6 being the average). Each sex
has a dominance rank within each pack, with
shifts occurring in males occasionally but not in
females. Packs congregate for social greetings
and border patrols at dawn, midday, and evening,
but forage individually during the rest of the
day. The typical home range is 1.5-6 square
miles, which is fairly small for a canid of the
Ethiopian wolf's size. Skirmishes between
neighboring packs are frequent.
Alarm calls (which start with a
"huff" and are followed by a series of
"yelps" and "barks") are
emitted at the sight or scent of man, dogs, or
unfamiliar wolves. Greeting calls consist of
"growls" of threat, high-frequency
"whines" of submission, and "group
yip-howls" given at reunion of pack members.
"Lone howls" or "group
howls," which can be heard 3 miles away, are
used for long distance communication.
To combat the high potential for inbreeding,
matings outside the pack occur frequently.
Matings outside the pack occur with males of all
rank, but those within the pack occur only
between the dominant male and female. While
mating between males and subordinate females does
occur, pups that may arise from this union rarely
survive. Once a year between October and January,
the dominant female in each pack gives birth to a
litter of 2-6 pups. Gestation lasts approximately
60-62 days. The female gives birth to her litter
in a den she digs in open ground, under a
boulder, or in a rocky crevice.
The pups are born with their eyes closed and
no teeth. They are charcoal gray with a buff
patch on their chest and underparts. At about 3-4
weeks, the coat begins to be replaced by the
normal adult coloring and the young first emerge
from the den. It is not uncommon for a
subordinate female to assist in suckling the
young of the dominant female. In these cases, the
subordinate lactating female is likely pregnant
and either loses or deserts her own young for
those of the dominant female. Beginning at about
5 weeks, the pups' milk diet is supplemented by
solid food regurgitated from all pack members.
From week 10 until about 6 months, the young
survive almost solely on solid food provided from
adult members of the pack.
The Ethiopian wolf attains full adult
appearance at 2 years of age, and both sexes are
sexually mature during their second year. Males
generally remain in their natal pack, and a small
number of females disperse in their second or
genus & species Canis simensis
Animal Diversity Web http://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Canis_simensis/
Questions or comments about