About This Project
The Ethiopian Wolf is the most endangered canid in the world and the most endangered carnivore in Africa. Less than 500 remain with none in captivity. They are primarily threatened by diseases spread from domestic dogs. We will collect data on the movement of dogs, combine it with data from Ethiopian Wolves and viruses to use cutting edge simulation modelling to trial various conservation strategies with the aim of producing a management plan.
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What is the context of this research?
Many of the world's most iconic species are now teetering on the brink of extinction and it is our responsibility to do what we can to save them. The Ethiopian Wolf (Canis Simensis) is the most endangered canid in the world and the most endangered carnivore in Africa. There are estimated to be fewer than 500 remaining and their population is constantly at risk of outbreaks of disease that can wipe out large numbers in a very short time span. There are efforts in place to try and prevent these outbreaks and respond to them but if a combined management strategy is not implemented soon then they may well go extinct in the coming decades. Before we move on we need to understand how dogs are moving through wolf habitat and how this could be impacting the dynamics of diseases.
What is the significance of this project?
This project will have direct impacts on the conservation of a highly endangered species. The data collected here will be used in cutting edge agent based modelling to simulate management strategies to provide evidence that can be presented to governments or management authorities on what is the most effective conservation strategy. Not only might this help to save a species, but it may work as proof of concept for a framework of simulating conservation strategies for endangered species that may allow assessment of strategies or threats without years of expensive and invasive monitoring or experimentation. If successful this could be applied to species all over the world helping to speed up conservation planning and increase effectiveness.
What are the goals of the project?
This project aims to collect data on the movements of domestic dogs using GPS logging collars with accelerometers. These will give us data on how far and fast the domestic dogs are moving through wolf habitat, and whether they show any habitat preference. We will construct these collars ourselves and then they will be deployed on domestic dogs in villages around and within wolf habitat. The collars will record location and movement and then we will collect the collars and analyse the data.
In the long run this data will be combined with data that has previously been collected on the movements of the wolves to create an agent based model of the dogs and wolves movements in the landscape with disease dynamics to learn about how diseases are transferred and then simulate management.
This fundraising effort is to raise money for GPS collars with accelerometers that will be placed on domestic dogs in the Afro-Alpine regions inhabited by the Ethiopian Wolves. This movement data is a crucial missing point in understanding the interactions between these species and the dynamics of disease transfer. This in turn will allow us to simulate a variety of management strategies to help conserve the Ethiopian Wolf.
Anything excess of this amount will be put into other project costs such as travel or the hiring of local field assistants.
Meet the Team
I am a first year PhD student at Oxford University based at the wildlife conservation research unit (WildCRU) which some people may remember from the Cecil the Lion incident. I am incredibly fortunate to get to spend my time working on some of the most fantastic species on the planet and travel to some of the most fantastic places, all in the name of a career. I have worked on a range of large carnivores including, bears, wolves, foxes and more as well as on birds or other groups. I got into this line of work out of a love of animals that became a love of science. Science represents the ultimate form of problem solving for humans as a species and getting to be a part of the group that expands human knowledge is a humbling experience. Between all my work there has always been a common theme of how humans are impacting the health and behaviour of animals. This project represents a pinnacle of this, getting to work on a highly endangered species with it's health directly impacted by humans, feels like the culmination of all the work I have done previously.
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