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Ethiopian Wolf Facts

Ethiopian Wolf facts
Image (C) Martin Harvey

The Ethiopian wolf is also known as the Abyssinian wolf, Abyssinian fox, red jackal, Simien fox and Simien jackal.  It is one of the most threatened canids in the world and the only wolf species to be found in Africa.


Living things can be organised into different groups.  Species that are alike are grouped together.  This is called classification.

Class: Mammals
Order: Carnivores
Family: Canids
Species: Canis simensis


Ethiopian wolves have long legs, a long, pointed muzzle and weigh between 11 and 19kg. They are a distinctive bright tawny red in colour with paler under parts and a black bushy tail. During the breeding season and pregnancy the female will turn a paler, more golden colour. There are thought to be fewer than 500 Ethiopian wolves remaining.



The Ethiopian wolf is confined to seven isolated subpopulations in different mountain ranges of the Ethiopian highlands, at altitudes above 3000m. More than half of the population lives in the Bale Mountains.

Map showing distribution of the Ethiopian wolf

Ethiopian wolf distribution map


The Ethiopian wolf usually inhabits afro-alpine open moorland with short vegetation.


Ethiopian wolves forage and hunt alone with rodents, such as the giant mole rat, making up over 90% of their diet.  They are able to hunt cooperatively to bring down larger prey such as small antelopes.


The narrow muzzle and widely-spaced small teeth help the wolf to handle their small prey which they stalk out in the open or dig from their burrows.


Ethiopian wolves live in close-knit territorial packs of between 3 and 13 adults, with a strong hierarchy.  Although they hunt alone, they congregate for social greetings and territory patrols at dawn, midday and in the evening. They rest together at night, out in the open.


Male wolves rarely leave their pack of birth - packs are typically an extended family group formed by males born into the pack and 1–2 females. All members of the pack will assist in caring for the pups, helping to feed and protect them.


Ethiopian wolves reach sexual maturity at 2 years of age. There is a distinct breeding season from August to November, and after a 2 month gestation, a litter of 2-6 pups is born in a den.  Only the dominant female in the pack will breed, and she will only give birth once a year. Most matings occur with males from neighbouring groups in order to avoid inbreeding.

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