Born Free USA Blog
by Adam M Roberts,
Chief Executive Officer
When it comes to animals, Adam Roberts not only talks the talk, but also walks the walk. Since beginning his animal advocacy career in Washington, D.C. in 1991, Adam's ambition, tireless involvement, and profound knowledge of conservation and wildlife issues have cemented him as a go-to voice for protecting animals — and he has elevated Born Free USA to the respected and impactful organization that we know today. Adam's compassionate, informed, and forward-thinking blogs will surely motivate you to join us in our fight to Keep Wildlife in the Wild.
I recently read the latest annual report from the Ethiopian Wolf Conservation Programme (EWCP), a vital wildlife protection program supported for years by Born Free. EWCP works in partnership with the Ethiopian Wildlife Conservation Authority to save this incredibly fragile species.
The Ethiopian wolf (Canis simensis) is one of the world’s rarest canids, with fewer than 500 individuals remaining. These wolves are found only in Ethiopia, where they make their homes in the ecologically significant Afroalpine highlands. The species has been threatened by habitat loss as agriculture encroaches on these fertile highlands, bringing with it human conflicts, disease, and hybridization. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List classifies the Ethiopian wolf as endangered, and there is much to be done to protect this vital keystone species.
EWCP focuses on four main programme areas: monitoring, disease control, education, and outreach. EWCP has been monitoring wolf populations in and around the Bale Mountain region since the mid 1990s. In the last year, the project logged approximately 4,000 hours searching for and watching wolves!
An incredible pilot project was also introduced to the monitoring aspect of EWCP’s work that included “digitizing” the observation data through the purchase and implementation of an Android “App.” Using wireless smart phones and tablets in the field increased efficiency, mobility, and accuracy.
Another highlight of the work is the success of EWCP’s disease control and prevention endeavors. EWCP targeted the spread of rabies transmitted through domesticated dogs that live in areas directly bordering the wolf’s range, because it is considered the most immediate threat to wolf populations. In some rural villages, the vaccination team ran into opposition from villagers who were unwilling to touch or tie up their dogs, and refused to cooperate after hearing rumors that the vaccine has made dogs sick. After multiple talks and meetings with EWCP’s education officers, a great number of locals agreed to participate, and the team was able to vaccinate 172 dogs in the area!
This is an exceptional project with global implications. The Ethiopian Wolf Conservation Programme succeeds through sound research, determined staff, unheard-of government and civic outreach, education, and engagement. And, I’m proud to say, with the support of Born Free!