An Ecological Study on Rodents and Their Significance to the Ethiopian Wolf (Canis simensis, Rüppel 1838) in the Afroalpine Belt of Mt. Abune Yoseph, Ethiopia

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Addis Ababa University


An investigation was made on the ecological and biological attributes of rodents and their significance to the endangered Ethiopian wolf (Canis simensis Rüppell, 1835) in the afroalpine ecosystem of Mt Abune Yoseph, northeast part of Ethiopia. Investigation of small mammals was conducted by using extensive live and removal trap samplings. Livetrapping was conducted using Sherman traps. The common break back traps were used for snap trapping. Trapping was carried out in five marginally different habitats between 3650- 4102 m asl. Transect and point observations were carried out in order to collect data on wolf activity and density in relation to habitat types and rodent biomass. Sociological data was collected in the form of interviews and informal discussions to understand the attitude of the locals about the Ethiopian wolf and small mammals. A total of seven rodent species of which six endemic and one insectivore shrew (Crocidura bayileyi Osgood, 1936) were trapped in habitats sampled during the wet and dry seasons. The rodent species include Arvicanthis abyssinicus (Rüppell, 1842), Stenocephalemys griseicauda Petter, 1972, Lophuromys flavopunctatus Thomas, 1888, Otomys typus (Heuglin, 1877), Pelomys harringtoni Thomas, 1903, Dendromus lovati De Winton, 1899 and Mericulus imberbis (Rüppell, 1842). A total of 925 individuals of rodents were captured during 4212 trap nights. The rodent species were found to be varied in abundance, trap success and population density among the different habitats. Modified habitats supported less species diversity and population abundance than those with better natural vegetation cover. The abundance of rodents in barely farm was the least of all followed by over grazed alpine meadow. This indicates that habitat modification by human activities could probably cause a decline effect on small mammals. Breeding and age structure of rodent species were intimately correlated with season. The overall rodent density and biomass was lower than the records in the Bale Mountains while, they were comparable to the Simen Mountains. There were thirty nine observations on the Ethiopian wolf during the present study. There was an estimated population of one pack that includes 8-10 adult and sub adult individuals and 2-3 cubs. The local people had positive attitude towards wolf conservation, despite the mountain was the only place to graze their livestock throughout the year. Mt. Abune Yoseph harboured endemic small and large mammals, avifauna and unique vegetations. As a result, it is one among the unique biodiversity hot-spots and spectacular natural heritages. Without the proper management of small mammals and the concomitant habitat, effective conservation of the endangered Ethiopian wolf can be very difficult. At the same time, conservation of the Ethiopian wolf in the area can not be successful without the keen involvement of local communities, whose lives are strictly entwined with the wildlife and their habitats. In order to effectively conserve the Ethiopian wolf and endemic rodents in Mt. Abune Yoseph, an integrated management programme that addresses the problem of wildlife; especially habitat modification without compromising the benefits of local people is required. The unique vegetations such as the guassa grass and giant lobelias, which are currently at risk also need immediate attention. Otherwise the next generations in this area will perceive only their names and past histories through literature. Key words: Abundance, Mt. Abune Yoseph, afroalpine rodents, Ethiopian wolf, Euryopslobelia, habitat association



Abundance, Mt. Abune Yoseph, afroalpine rodents, Ethiopian wolf, Euryopslobelia,, habitat association