- A rabies epidemic in part of south-eastern Ethiopia is threatening the survival of the most endangered member of the dog family in the world, the Ethiopian wolf; also known as the simian jackal. Environmentalists have now started a vaccination programme.
At least 30 Ethiopian wolves have died from rabies since the disease broke out in the Bale Mountains National Park at the end of September, the environmental group WWF reports today. The Bale park is home to some 300 of the wolves, more than half of the total population in the country.
Since the first death was reported at the end of September, conservationists however have been trying to isolate affected wolves and have started a vaccination programme in an attempt to contain the epidemic.
In the last rabies epidemic in 1991 and 1992, more than two-thirds of park's wolves were wiped out. There are believed to be less than 500 Ethiopian wolves left in the country.
Conservationists fear that "unless more funds are forthcoming to vaccinate the wolves, the population will dwindle," WWF says. Environmental groups already have invested much in the wolves' survival.
The wolves, with their distinctive red coat, are already under threat from human-wildlife conflict. As their natural habitats are eroded by human settlements, they are often killed by local people in the park who perceive them as a threat to themselves and their livestock.
- If we are to save the Ethiopian wolf from extinction, we must find a permanent solution to the recent influx of illegal settlers into the national park, says Dr Ermias Bekele, Coordinator of WWF's Bale Mountains project. Ethiopia currently faces a severe drought and many impoverished families are seeking refuge in greener areas.
The settlers also bring other intruders to the park. "We also have to ensure that the settlers' dogs don't breed with the wolves, eroding their unique genetic make-up even further," says Mr Bekele. "These dogs also have to be vaccinated and sterilised to stop the spread of rabies."
WWF today is appealing for funds to expand the vaccination and sterilisation programme in the Bale Mountains, as well as money to help in the relocation of the recent wave of migrants into the park.
The international group says it is working with the Ethiopian government on implementing a regional resettlement plan. It is also involved in projects to heighten awareness among local communities of the value of the rare Ethiopian wolf and its critical habitats.
afrol News - It is called "financial inclusion", and it is a key government policy in Rwanda. The goal is that, by 2020, 90 percent of the population is to have and actively use bank accounts. And in only four years, financial inclusion has doubled in Rwanda.
afrol News - The UN's humanitarian agencies now warn about a devastating famine in Sudan and especially in South Sudan, where the situation is said to be "imploding". Relief officials are appealing to donors to urgently fund life-saving activities in the two countries.
afrol News - Fear is spreading all over West Africa after the health ministry in Guinea confirmed the first Ebola outbreak in this part of Africa. According to official numbers, at least 86 are infected and 59 are dead as a result of this very contagious disease.
afrol News - It is already a crime being homosexual in Ethiopia, but parliament is now making sure the anti-gay laws will be applied in practical life. No pardoning of gays will be allowed in future, but activist fear this only is a signal of further repression being prepared.
afrol News / Africa Renewal - Ethiopia's ambitious plan to build a US$ 4.2 billion dam in the Benishangul-Gumuz region, 40 km from its border with Sudan, is expected to provide 6,000 megawatts of electricity, enough for its population plus some excess it can sell to neighbouring countries.