Ethiopian Wildlife Conservation Authority

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Ethiopian Wildlife Conservation Authority

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
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PubMed | Ministry of Agriculture, Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography, Tibet University, University of Porto and 3 more.
Type: | Journal: Molecular phylogenetics and evolution | Year: 2015

All extant equid species are grouped in a single genus - Equus. Among those, ass-like equids have remained particularly unstudied and their phylogenetic relations were poorly understood, most probably because they inhabit extreme environments in remote geographic areas. To gain further insights into the evolutionary history of ass-like equids, we have used a non-invasive sampling approach to collect representative fecal samples of extant African and Asiatic ass-like equid populations across their distribution range and mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) sequencing analyses to examine intraspecific genetic diversity and population structure, and to reconstruct phylogenetic relations among wild ass species/subspecies. Sequence analyses of 410 base pairs of the fast evolving mtDNA control region identified the Asiatic wild ass population of Kalamaili (China) as the one displaying the highest diversity among all wild ass populations. Phylogenetic analyses of complete cytochrome b sequences revealed that African and Asiatic wild asses shared a common ancestor approximately 2.3Mya and that diversification in both groups occurred much latter, probably driven by climatic events during the Pleistocene. Inferred genetic relationships among Asiatic wild ass species do not support E. kiang monophyly, highlighting the need of more extensive studies in order to clarify the taxonomic status of species/subspecies belonging to this branch of the Equus phylogeny. These results highlight the importance of re-assessing the evolutionary history of ass-like equid species, and urge to extend studies at the population level to efficiently design conservation and management actions for these threatened species.

Gordon C.H.,Zoological Society of London | Gordon C.H.,University of Oxford | Banyard A.C.,Animal and Plant Health Agency | Hussein A.,Ethiopian Wolf Conservation Programme | And 8 more authors.
Emerging Infectious Diseases | Year: 2015

The Ethiopian wolf (Canis simensis) is the world’s rarest canid; ≈500 wolves remain. The largest population is found within the Bale Mountains National Park (BMNP) in southeastern Ethiopia, where conservation efforts have demonstrated the negative effect of rabies virus on wolf populations. We describe previously unreported infections with canine distemper virus (CDV) among these wolves during 2005–2006 and 2010. Death rates ranged from 43% to 68% in affected subpopulations and were higher for subadult than adult wolves (83%–87% vs. 34%–39%). The 2010 CDV outbreak started 20 months after a rabies outbreak, before the population had fully recovered, and led to the eradication of several focal packs in BMNP’s Web Valley. The combined effect of rabies and CDV increases the chance of pack extinction, exacerbating the typically slow recovery of wolf populations, and represents a key extinction threat to populations of this highly endangered carnivore. © 2015, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). All rights reserved.

Randall D.A.,University of Oxford | Pollinger J.P.,University of California at Los Angeles | Argaw K.,Ethiopian Wildlife Conservation Authority | Macdonald D.W.,University of Oxford | Wayne R.K.,University of California at Los Angeles
Conservation Genetics | Year: 2010

We used demographic, spatial, and microsatellite data to assess fine-scale genetic structure in Ethiopian wolves found in the Bale Mountains and evaluated the impact of historical versus recent demographic processes on genetic variation. We applied several analytical methods, assuming equilibrium and nonequilibrium conditions, to assess demography and genetic structure. Genetic variation (HE = 0.584-0.607, allelic richness = 4.2-4.3) was higher than previously reported for this species and genetic structure was influenced by geography and social structure. Statistically significant FST values (0.06-0.08) implied differentiation among subpopulations. STRUCTURE analyses showed that neighbouring packs often have shared co-ancestry and spatial autocorrelation showed higher genetic similarity between individuals within packs and between individuals in neighbouring packs compared to random pairs of individuals. Recent effective population sizes were lower than 2n (where n is the number of packs) and lower than the number of breeding individuals with Ne/N ratios near 0.20. All subpopulations have experienced bottlenecks, one occurring due to a rabies outbreak in 2003. Nevertheless, differentiation among these subpopulations is consistent with long-term migration rates and fragmentation at the end of the Pleistocene. Enhanced drift due to population bottlenecks may be countered by higher migration into disease-affected subpopulations. Contemporary factors such as social structure and population bottlenecks are clearly influencing the level and distribution of genetic variation in this population, which has implications for its conservation. © Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009.

Tschopp R.,Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute | Tschopp R.,Armauer Hansen Research Institute | Aseffa A.,Armauer Hansen Research Institute | Schelling E.,Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute | And 6 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2010

Bovine tuberculosis (BTB) is endemic in cattle in the Ethiopian Highlands but no studies have been done so far in pastoralists in South Omo. This study assessed the prevalence of bovine tuberculosis (BTB) at an intensive interface of livestock, wildlife and pastoralists in Hamer Woreda (South Omo), Ethiopia. A cross-sectional survey including a comparative intradermal skin testing (CIDT) was conducted in 499 zebu cattle and 186 goats in 12 settlements. Sputum samples from 26 symptomatic livestock owners were cultured for TB. Fifty-one wildlife samples from 13 different species were also collected in the same area and tested with serological (lateral flow assay) and bacteriological (culture of lymph nodes) techniques. Individual BTB prevalence in cattle was 0.8% (CI: 0.3%-2%) with the >4 mm cut-off and 3.4% (CI: 2.1%-5.4%) with the >2 mm cut-off. Herd prevalence was 33.3% and 83% when using the >4 and the >2 mm cut-off respectively. There was no correlation between age, sex, body condition and positive reactors upon univariate analysis. None of the goats were reactors for BTB. Acid fast bacilli (AFB) were detected in 50% of the wildlife cultures, 79.2% of which were identified as Mycobacterium terrae complex. No M. bovis was detected. Twenty-seven percent of tested wildlife were sero-positive. Four sputum cultures (15.4%) yielded AFB positive colonies among which one was M. tuberculosis and 3 non-tuberculous mycobacteria (NTM). The prevalence of M. avium-complex (MAC) was 4.2% in wildlife, 2.5% in cattle and 0.5% in goats. In conclusion, individual BTB prevalence was low, but herd prevalence high in cattle and BTB was not detected in goats, wildlife and humans despite an intensive contact interface. On the contrary, NTMs were highly prevalent and some Mycobacterium spp were more prevalent in specific species. The role of NTMs in livestock and co-infection with BTB need further research. © 2010 Tschopp et al.

Kimura B.,University of Florida | Kimura B.,Santa Fe College | Marshall F.B.,Washington University in St. Louis | Chen S.,University of Porto | And 11 more authors.
Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences | Year: 2011

Genetic data from extant donkeys (Equus asinus) have revealed two distinct mitochondrial DNA haplogroups, suggestive of two separate domestication events in northeast Africa about 5000 years ago. Without distinct phylogeographic structure in domestic donkey haplogroups and with little information on the genetic makeup of the ancestral African wild ass, however, it has been difficult to identify wild ancestors and geographical origins for the domestic mitochondrial clades. Our analysis of ancient archaeological and historic museum samples provides the first genetic information on the historic Nubian wild ass (Equus africanus africanus), Somali wild ass (Equus africanus somaliensis) and ancient donkey. The results demonstrate that the Nubian wild ass was an ancestor of the first donkey haplogroup. In contrast, the Somali wild ass has considerable mitochondrial divergence from the Nubian wild ass and domestic donkeys. These findings resolve the long-standing issue of the role of the Nubian wild ass in the domestication of the donkey, but raise new questions regarding the second ancestor for the donkey. Our results illustrate the complexity of animal domestication, and have conservation implications for critically endangered Nubian and Somali wild ass. © 2010 The Royal Society.

Kebede F.,Ethiopian Wildlife Conservation Authority | Moehlman P.D.,IUCN SSC Equid Specialist Group | Bekele A.,Addis Ababa Institute of Technology | Evangelista P.H.,Colorado State University
African Journal of Ecology | Year: 2014

The African wild ass (Equus africanus) is the most endangered wild equid in the world and is listed as a Critically Endangered (CR) on the IUCN Red list. Today, only relict populations remain in Ethiopia and Eritrea. The current Ethiopian population persists in the Danakil Desert at a very low density. Wildlife managers need to identify the extent of the remaining suitable habitat and understand human-wildlife interactions for appropriate conservation strategies. This study employed the maximum entropy model (Maxent) to determine suitable habitat and seasonal distribution of African wild ass in the Danakil Desert of Ethiopia. Field surveys were conducted four times annually, twice during the wet season and twice during the dry season, for 2 years. Field data and predictor variables were separated into the dry and wet seasons, and models were generated for each season independently. Distance from water, distance from settlements, herbaceous cover and slope were the best predictors of suitable habitat for both dry and wet seasons. Evaluations of model performances were high with area under the curve (AUC) values of 0.94 and 0.95 for the dry and wet seasons, respectively. Our results will be critical for identifying the available suitable habitat that should be conserved to safeguard this species from extinction. © 2014 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

PubMed | Animal and Plant Health Agency APHA, Aix - Marseille University, Ethiopian Public Health Institute and Ethiopian Wildlife conservation Authority
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Genome announcements | Year: 2015

Ethiopian wolves are the rarest canid in the world, with only 500 found in the Ethiopian highlands. Rabies poses the most immediate threat to their survival, causing epizootic cycles of mass mortality. The complete genome sequence of a rabies virus (RABV) derived from an Ethiopian wolf during the most recent epizootic is reported here.

Van Kesteren F.,University of Oxford | Van Kesteren F.,University of Pretoria | Sillero-Zubiri C.,University of Oxford | Millar R.,University of Pretoria | And 4 more authors.
General and Comparative Endocrinology | Year: 2012

Ethiopian wolves, Canis simensis, live in large multi-male family packs, where males are philopatric and do not disperse. Within a pack, mating and breeding is largely monopolized by the dominant male and female, although extra-pack copulations are common, and subordinate males may sire pups in neighboring packs. Regardless of paternity, all males in a pack help rear the pups. We non-invasively studied patterns in fecal testosterone and glucocorticoid metabolite concentrations using radioimmunoassays of fecal samples collected from nine wild male Ethiopian wolves between August 2007 and February 2008. We tested the predictions of the Challenge Hypothesis, namely that fecal testosterone metabolite concentrations would be higher during the annual mating season, which is the portion of the reproductive cycle when mating and increased aggression typically occur, and lower when there were pups in the pack for which to care. Contrary to the predictions of the Challenge Hypothesis, we did not detect patterns in fecal testosterone metabolite concentrations associated with reproductive stage during our study period. Similarly, we found no patterns associated with reproductive stage in male fecal glucocorticoid metabolite concentrations. Dominant males had higher average fecal testosterone and glucocorticoid metabolite concentrations than did subordinates, which may be related to higher rates of aggression and mate guarding in dominant males of group-living canids, a pattern also reported in African wild dogs, Lycaon pictus. © 2012 Elsevier Inc.

PubMed | University of Salford, University of Oxford, Ethiopian Wildlife Conservation Authority and University of Pretoria
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Journal of helminthology | Year: 2015

Ethiopian wolves, Canis simensis, are an endangered carnivore endemic to the Ethiopian highlands. Although previous studies have focused on aspects of Ethiopian wolf biology, including diet, territoriality, reproduction and infectious diseases such as rabies, little is known of their helminth parasites. In the current study, faecal samples were collected from 94 wild Ethiopian wolves in the Bale Mountains of southern Ethiopia, between August 2008 and February 2010, and were screened for the presence of helminth eggs using a semi-quantitative volumetric dilution method with microscopy. We found that 66 of the 94 faecal samples (70.2%) contained eggs from at least one group of helminths, including Capillaria, Toxocara, Trichuris, ancylostomatids, Hymenolepis and taeniids. Eggs of Capillaria sp. were found most commonly, followed by Trichuris sp., ancylostomatid species and Toxocara species. Three samples contained Hymenolepis sp. eggs, which were likely artefacts from ingested prey species. Four samples contained taeniid eggs, one of which was copro-polymerase chain reaction (copro-PCR) and sequence positive for Echinococcus granulosus, suggesting a spillover from a domestic parasite cycle into this wildlife species. Associations between presence/absence of Capillaria, Toxocara and Trichuris eggs were found; and egg burdens of Toxocara and ancylostomatids were found to be associated with geographical location and sampling season.

News Article | August 31, 2016

The trials, undertaken by the University of Oxford, the Ethiopian Wildlife Conservation Authority and the UK Animal and Plant Health Agency in the Bale Mountains of Ethiopia, are the first ever conducted in wild populations of an endangered carnivore. Researchers from Ethiopia and the UK tested various types of baits and ways to deliver the vaccine, trialling SAG2 in three wolf packs. Of 21 wolves trapped after vaccinations, 14 were positive for a biomarker indicating that the animal had ingested the bait; of these, half showed antibody titres in blood above the universally recognised threshold, and 86% had levels considered sufficient to provide protective immunity to wildlife. Wolves were closely monitored after the vaccination, and all but one of the wolves vaccinated were alive 14 months later (higher than average survival). Oral vaccination proved to be the answer to controlling rabies in wild populations of red foxes and northern raccoons in Europe and North America, but the approach has never been tested in wild populations of endangered carnivores such as Ethiopian wolves and African wild dogs, which are at risk of extinction because of outbreaks of infectious diseases. Rabies is a virus that kills people, domestic livestock and wild animals worldwide, and is particularly prevalent in the highlands of Ethiopia, where rabies recurrently jumps from domestic dogs into their wild relatives, the charismatic Ethiopian wolves. With fewer than 500 adult wolves left in half a dozen mountain ranges, and no captive populations, Ethiopian wolves are much rarer than giant pandas and unlikely to sustain the immediate and present threats rising from growing numbers of dogs and people living in and around their mountain enclaves. But with wolves living in a sea of domestic dogs, in shrinking habitat islands, there is no time left to waste. Oral vaccination offers a more cost-efficient, safe and proactive approach to protect Ethiopian wolves and other threatened canids from rabies. Lead author Professor Claudio Sillero-Zubiri, of the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit (WildCRU) in the Department of Zoology at the University of Oxford, said: 'We now have a safe vaccine, a suitable bait, an efficient delivery method, and trained monitoring teams in place - all crucial steps which open up the possibility for scaling up the oral vaccination and protecting the wolf populations at risk, before disease strikes again.' Head wolf monitor Alo Hussein, of the Ethiopian Wolf Conservation Programme (EWCP), said: 'In spite of investing in excess of US$30,000 a year vaccinating thousands of domestic dogs, it has been impossible to attain a level of dog vaccinations that would remove the risk of wolves getting infected, due to the large and dynamic dog population in the Bale Mountains.' Professor Tony Fooks, of the Institute of Infection and Global Health, University of Liverpool, and the Animal and Plant Health Agency, said: 'These preliminary results using an oral vaccination strategy to protect Ethiopian wolves against rabies are encouraging and provide proof-of-principle for the use of this approach in wild canids.' Dr Fekede Regassa, of the Ethiopian Wildlife Conservation Authority, said: 'Since 1990, four major rabies outbreaks led each time to the crash of the Bale Mountains wolf population, the world's largest, typically killing 50-75% of the subpopulation affected. EWCP vaccinates wolves reactively whenever a rabies outbreak is confirmed, contributing to contain the disease, but only after many wolves die - by the time rabies is detected, the virus is well established, and as wolves are highly social, it spreads fast.' More information: Claudio Sillero-Zubiri et al, Feasibility and efficacy of oral rabies vaccine SAG2 in endangered Ethiopian wolves, Vaccine (2016). DOI: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2016.08.021

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