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Canis simensis
The Ethiopian wolf is the most threatened canid in the world and the only wolf species to be found in Africa. It is generally similar to a coyote (Canis latrans) in shape and size, and has characteristically long legs and a long, pointed muzzle. The fur is a bright tawny red colour, with whitish to ginger underfur, the underparts, chin, chest and the inside of the pointed ears are white, and the bushy tail is black. Females become more yellowish during the breeding season, and juveniles have a charcoal-grey coat. Males tend to be around 20 percent larger than the females. The narrow muzzle and widely-spaced small teeth are adaptations that help this wolf to handle small prey items.

Biology Edit

Ethiopian wolves live in close-knit territorial packs numbering between 3 and 13 adults, but individual pack members tend to forage alone. Afro-alpine endemics such as the giant molerat (Tachyoryctes macrocephalus) and three species of grass rats make up the majority of the diet of these wolves; prey are skilfully stalked out in the open or dug out of their burrows. All adults gather to patrol and mark the territory at dawn and dusk repelling any intruders, and rest together during the night, usually spent curled up in the open. Strong social bonds exist between members of the group, who greet each other excitedly. Male wolves seldom disperse, whereas many females leave their natal pack at maturity to seek a breeding opportunity elsewhere, occasionally 'floating' between established pack ranges.

The dominant female of each pack gives birth between October and December, to a litter of two to six pups who spend their first three weeks of life inside a closely guarded den. Most matings occur with males from neighbouring groups in order to avoid inbreeding. Other members of the pack will assist with guarding the den from avian and terrestrial predators. They also regurgitate food for the pups for the first four months of their life, and subordinate females may even suckle the litter.

Range and Habitat Edit

As its name suggests, this wolf is endemic to the Ethiopian mountains between 3,000 and 4,377 metres above sea level. At present, just seven isolated pockets of occupied habitat are known, with the largest population found in the Bale Mountains National Park. As of 2008, the total population was thought to number as few as 500, with around 250 breeding individuals. The Ethiopian wolf usually inhabits afro-alpine open moorland with vegetation shorter than 25 centimetres, and sustaining a high density of rodent species. Also occurs on heather moorland, always above 3,000 metres above sea level.

GalleryEdit

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