Cry wolf on an Ethiopian adventure
A high-altitude trek through the Bale Mountains might be strenuous but it offers the chance to see one of Africa’s rarest species, says Nick Redmayne.
“Behind you, behind you!” In the distance a figure waved and shouted in earnest from atop the highest lava pinnacle in a field of humbling rocky erections. By his clothes I recognised our guide, Allu Hussein, though his message was lost to the wind. “Behind you! There’s a wolf!” As I turned away from Allu’s exaggerated pantomime of pointing and jumping, my gaze was indeed returned by the forward-facing binocular vision of one of the world’s rarest hunters, about 100m away. An Ethiopian wolf, headÃ‚Â hanging low, straining forward, scenting the air speculatively.
Rising from lowland plains, the remote plateau of Ethiopia’s Bale Mountains is a high redoubt for an estimated 220 Ethiopian wolves. An earlier meeting with Chris Goodman of Oxford University-supported Ethiopian Wolf Conservation Programme (EWCP) had set the scene. “In all Ethiopia there are probably 420 to 430 wolves. The Bale Mountains have the highest concentration Ã¢â‚¬â€œ a genetically viable population Ã¢â‚¬â€œ but at the moment the park borders are not even gazetted. Ethiopia’s human population is rising and, as the climate changes, crops are being grown at higher and higher altitudes. Right now, almost 20,000 people, many with their cattle, live inside the boundaries.” Read more