U.S. Department of Agriculture: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service


Date of this Version



Published in Integrative Zoology 2009; 4: 172–178.


The endangered Ethiopian wolf is considered the rarest canid in Africa. The species faces many threats and is particularly vulnerable to diseases such as rabies. A simple, low-technology means to monitor populations would greatly facilitate conservation efforts, through early detection of population changes and behavior, and signaling a need for intervention. We tested a passive tracking index methodology, which has been a valuable tool for indexing canids and other species around the world. The method uses counts of track intrusions into plots placed in the animals’ routes of travel as the basis for calculating an index. Unlike for other species, for which the placement of tracking plots on dirt roads has been extremely successful, we found in our first trial that this approach did not adequately intersect the wolves’ activity patterns. The low vegetation associated with Afro-alpine habitats offered little benefit for the wolves to travel roads. However, in our second trial among molerat colonies, a focus of wolf foraging activity, we found plot placement on molerat mounds was efficient for collecting Ethiopian wolf plot intrusions for index calculations. This plot placement method coupled with the passive tracking index calculations might offer resource managers a cost efficient tool that requires minimal equipment to monitor Ethiopian wolf populations on the Sanetti Plateau and other Afro-alpine habitats. Plot placement on roads in other Ethiopian wolf habitats where cross-country travel is more difficult might still be a viable means to collect track data, but would require further testing.